Episode Summary

On today’s episode of Safety of Work, we wonder what regulators are supposed to do if safety emerges from frontline work.

Episode Notes

We use the paper, How Institutions Enhance Mindfulness, to help frame our discussion.


  • Mindful organizing.
  • How the researchers conducted their survey and how it affected results.
  • When the regulators are from the government.
  • Four key activities that enhance safety.
  • Why the org in the study leaned towards punishment rather than education.
  • The two disparate views within the paper.
  • How to create an environment that supports good decisions.
  • Shifting blind reinforcement to reasonable reinforcement.


“So, they talked about this collective mindfulness as emerging out of the five principles of high-reliability organization theory.”

“I was trying to interpret how much of this was down to national culture and how much of it was down to the research itself. And it certainly appears that in this situation, the primary regulator…the government regulator is the police.”

“Initially operators must learn and follow the rules. But to function effectively as operators, they can’t mindlessly follow the rules, because the rules are sometimes irrelevant or unhelpful, leading to unnecessary violations.”


How Institutions Enhance Mindfulness