Research report: Using causal loop diagrams to explore behavioural and socio-technical safety challenges

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  • Published: June 2023
  • REF/ISBN: 9781787253704
  • Edition: 1st
  • Status: Current

In 2021, the EI published a Research report: Achieving greater resilience to major events – Organisational learning for safety risk management in complex environments, which identified common contributory organisational and cultural deficiencies that led to 12 major process safety events. From that, a set of expectations of good practice was created that organisations can use to help identify weaknesses and make interventions to potentially avoid future organisational incidents.

Following this, the EI Research report: Question-set to understand and evaluate socio-technical organisational resilience (QUESTOR) was published, in which a methodology was developed to help organisations identify potential shortfalls in meeting these expectations. Question sets were created, designed to assess the extent to which the expectations are being met in ‘operational reality’. This practical tool is aimed to be utilised by leaders, managers, ‘specialists’ and a sample of the workforce.

The EI Research report: Using causal loop diagrams to explore behavioural and socio-technical safety challenges is a further continuation of the two previous reports, and builds upon the use of causal loop diagrams (CLDs) as a tool for organisations to identify, and understand, vulnerabilities that lead to failures within complex work systems, as well as model interventions that aim to prevent these vulnerabilities being introduced.

The purpose of the report is to demonstrate how CLDs might be used by teams to model the causes of incidents (perhaps even before incidents have occurred if vulnerabilities are found proactively, such as by using the QUESTOR tool) so that interventions might be designed that can effectively tackle these, without introducing unexpected and undesirable consequences.

The intended audience of this report includes health, safety and environment (HS&E) managers, senior leaders, and others who may have responsibility for auditing and measuring safety performance within organisations.

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