Episode Summary

Welcome to the first Safety of Work podcast episode for the New Year! After our three-part series on the book, Safety I and Safety II, we go back and discuss the role of Safety II. Namely, we ask how Safety II reimagines the role of safety professionals.

Episode Notes

Every ten episodes or so, we like to indulge ourselves and cover some of our own research. This is one of those episodes. Since it is relevant to our last three episodes, we discuss the final paper that David wrote when pursuing his Ph.D.


  • Defining a safety professional and other key terms.
  • Two modes of safety: Centralized control and guided adaptability.
  • Thematic analysis of different safety theories.
  • The peer-review response to David’s paper.
  • Understanding which resources people draw upon.
  • Listening to technical specialists beyond the front line.
  • Improving operational scenarios.
  • Facilitating learning.
  • Practical takeaways.
  • What we’d love to hear from our listeners.


“Centralized control is the big, main idea that pervades, I suppose, our current and traditional… approach to safety, which is about trying to reduce the variability of work…”

“We’ve got all of these people complaining that Safety II doesn’t give you any sort of practical implementation. So you…submit a draft of this paper and the immediate response is ‘Oh, this isn’t offering anything new’, when it was answering the exact thing that people are constantly complaining about.”

“And then secondly…to understand the issues and uncertainties being grappled with by technical specialists. And try to look for where the organization might be discounting emerging information.”


Safety II Professionals