When things go wrong, we seem to display a reliable tendency to do one thing: blame those at the ‘sharp end’. No matter how complex the system, how uncertain the situation, or how inadequate the conditions, our attention post-accident seems to turn to those proximal to the consequence, whom we judge to have failed to control the hazard in question.
The notion of ‘just culture’ has developed over the past decade or so in response to this and is highly valued by front line staff. Just culture is, however, borne of the Safety-I mindset. Since the advent of ‘just culture’, the Safety-II perspective has emerged. Safety-II defines safety not as avoiding that things go wrong but as ensuring that things go right. Safety-II views the human not as a hazard, but as a resource necessary for system flexibility and resilience.
In light of this, it has been proposed that the idea of just culture should be abandoned. If we take a Safety-II view, ‘just culture’ might indeed seem unnecessary. Steve Shorrock explores this further in his latest blog.