Episode Summary

In today’s episode – our 80th episode no less-  we do a deep-dive into a term coined by Dr Drew Rae himself, namely, Safety Clutter. Clutter in safety procedures are a thorn in the side of many employees and contractors. We discuss the different types of clutter, what causes these procedures to become cluttered and why it’s a good idea to declutter.

Episode Notes

The paper we reference today is our own research paper published in 2018 named; Safety clutter: the accumulation and persistence of ‘safety’ work that does not contribute to operational safety. So we have done ample research when it comes to this particular topic and we’re excited to share this knowledge with you. Hopefully you will take away from this episode a better understanding of where to start looking for (and clear out) clutter in your own workplace.


  • What is safety clutter?
  • The three C’s
  • Contribution
  • Confidence
  • Consensus
  • The paper – Safety clutter: the accumulation and persistence of ‘safety’ work that does not contribute to operational safety
  • Types of duplication in safety tasks
  • Generalization of safety tasks
  • Symbolic application of safety tasks
  • Attempted simplification
  • Least common denominator
  • Overspecification
  • The causes of safety clutter
  • Why reduce safety clutter?
  • Ways to deal with safety clutter


“Clutter by duplication – when you literally have two activities that perform the same function, then you know that at least one out of the two is going to be unnecessary. – Drew Rae

“They ended up having to create a hazard on the work site for the manager who was doing the critical controls inspection to check that they had properly managed the hazard.” Drew Rae

“I found a 28 page work page work instruction on how to spray weeds on a concrete pathway with a weedspray that was biodegradable and commercially available at any supermarket.” – David Provan

“It’s harder to remove anything that is there for safety than it is to add something that’s there for safety.” – Drew Rae

“Did you know that some of the things we do in this organization, specifically for safety, may make our organization less safe. – David Provan


Griffith University Safety Science Innovation Lab

Research paper