EI - Hearts and minds

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Managing Rule Breaking

Rules and procedures form one of the major barriers between hazards and unwanted events. Failure to follow these established procedures removes one or more of these barriers. This can be due to human error, or the rules can be broken intentionally. In combination with a single error or mechanical failure, violations can lead to disaster. The Managing rule breaking tool will help you to understand why people break rules and how to manage and change this.


The majority of people break rules and cut corners for what they see as good reasons - often to get the job done. Managing rule breaking explains that most people can be classified as either a Sheep or a Wolf and illustrates how to get both to follow procedures. Sheep are guardians of high standards who dislike having to break the rules. Wolves have fewer problems with violation, feel in control of situations and exploit opportunities when they arise.

This booklet leads groups through a step-by-step process, so they can identify the existence of problems, find solutions, and realise that any behaviour has consequences. Four worksheets are included within Managing rule breaking:
1.    Procedures and Practices Questionnaire
2.    Worksite Conditions Questionnaire
3.    Consequences of Errors and Violations
4.    Consequences for Exemplary and Expected behaviours.
The first two are scratchcards, and as such can only be used once. New sets can be ordered separately (the other two worksheets are intended to be re-used).

How to use

Managing rule breaking contains a number of different sections, focusing on the solutions to different types of rule-breaking.  Use it with managers to clarify the organisation’s policy and system for managing unsafe acts and learning from incidents.  Use it with supervisors and their staff to determine if procedures are being used and how they can be improved.

Related files:

Registered Hearts and Minds users gain access to facilitator presentations and additional resources. (Log in at the top of this page)