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Creating an Effective Safety Department

Given the different models about risk and accidents, what should your safety department do, and how and where should it be organized? The answers tend to differ across industries. Until not so long ago, for example, many hospitals would have no meaningful safety function. Even the airline I flew for had a safety department of exactly one person. Now, in many ways that could be a good thing: it prevents the bureaucratization of safety, or the sense that safety is the problem of the safety department and that everybody else can just focus on operations. But it can also have downsides: a lack of safety intelligence in the organization, or an inability to respond adequately to incidents, for instance. So ...

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