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Learning from Successful Operations

In safety work we have traditionally been concerned with mistakes, failures and why things go wrong. Such a focus will always be important to prevent new accidents, but there is also much to learn why things go well. Why do we succeed in coping with a challenging work operation in a good way?

The project has developed a guide summarizing key messages from the project.
The project has developed a guide summarizing key messages from the project.

As a delivery from the project "Learning from Successful Operations", we have developed a guide summarizing key messages from the project: "What do you do when you build safety? - Practitioners' guide to learning from successful operations".

Download the "Successful Operations Guide"

Read more about the project

While a rich array of methods exists to analyse the causes of accidents and critical events, there is a scarcity of methods for analysing successful operations. These aspects of safety have received far less attention than the causes of failure. To correct some of these shortcomings, the project has aimed to answer the following questions:

  1. How can successful operations be distinguished from unsuccessful operations?
  2. How do individuals, groups and organisations anticipate, prevent, detect, interpret and handle disturbances that may lead to accidents?
  3. Are there systematic differences between successful operations, normal operations and unsuccessful operations with regard to planning, preparation and execution?
  4. What environmental conditions are conducive to successful operations? (hardware/technology, procedures, competence)
  5. How can successful operations be analysed and described by practitioners in a way that contributes to improved safety?

We have developed methods and guidelines for analysis of successful operations, and recommendations regarding how to improve learning from successful operations (e.g. guidelines for debriefing activities, safety audits and education and training).

The project has been supported by the Research Council of Norway's PETROMAKS 2 programme and has been carried out by researchers from SINTEF, NTNU and NTNU Social Research. Internationally, SINTEF have collaborate with Professor emeritus Andrew Hale (Hastam, UK) and Professor Erik Hollnagel (University of Southern Denmark).

Key Factors

Project duration

2013 - 2016