Episode Summary

In this week’s episode, we tackle an interesting conundrum in safety through a paper written by René Amalberti. The idea he poses is that aiming for zero errors in the workplace should not be the goal – in fact, some errors should be encouraged to ensure learning. The author also challenges the idea of continuously improving the safety of systems – stating that this could actually become detrimental to the overall safety of a workplace.

Episode Notes

Find out our thoughts on this paper and our key takeaways for the ever-changing world of workplace safety.


  • Introduction to the paper & the Author
  • “Adding more rules is not going to make your system safer.”
  • The principles of safety in the paper
  • Types of safety systems as broken down by the paper
  • Problems in these “Ultrasafe systems”
  • The Summary of developments of human error
  • The psychology of making mistakes
  • The Efficiency trade-off element in safety
  • Suggestions in Amalberti’s conclusion
  • Takeaway messages
  • Answering the question: Why does safety get harder as systems get safer?


“Systems are good – but they are bad because humans make mistakes” – Dr. Drew Rae

“He doesn’t believe that zero is the optimal number of human errors” – Dr. Drew Rae

“You can’t look at mistakes in isolation of the context”  – Dr. Drew Rae

“The context and the system drive the behavior. – Dr. David Provan

“It’s part of the human condition to accept mistakes. It is actually an important part of the way we learn and develop our understanding of things. – Dr. David Provan


Griffith University Safety Science Innovation Lab


The Paradoxes of Almost Totally Safe Transportation Systems by R. Amalberti

Risk Management in a Dynamic society: a Modeling problem – Jens Rasmussen

The ETTO Principle: Efficiency-Thoroughness Trade-Off: Why Things That Go Right Sometimes Go Wrong – Book by Erik Hollnagel

Ep.81 How does simulation training develop Safety II capabilities?

Navigating safety: Necessary Compromises and Trade-Offs – Theory and Practice – Book by R. Amalberti