The Safety Anarchist: Relying on human expertise and innovation, reducing bureaucracy and compliance

The Safety Anarchist: Relying on human expertise and innovation, reducing bureaucracy and compliance

by Sidney Dekker


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Work has never been as safe as it seems today. Safety has also never been as bureaucratized as it is today. Over the past two decades, the number of safety rules and statutes has exploded, and organizations themselves are creating ever more internal compliance requirements. At the same time, progress on safety has slowed to a crawl. Many incident- and injury rates have flatlined. Worse, excellent safety performance on low-consequence events tends to increase the risk of fatalities and disasters. Bureaucracy and compliance now seem less about managing the safety of the workers we are responsible for, and more about managing the liability of the people they work for. We make workers do a lot that does nothing to improve their success locally. Paradoxically, such tightening of safety bureaucracy robs us of exactly the source of human insight, creativity and resilience that can tell us how success is actually created, and where the next accident may well happen.

It is time for Safety Anarchists: people who trust people more than process, who rely on horizontally coordinating experiences and innovations, who push back against petty rules and coercive compliance, and who help recover the dignity and expertise of human work.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781138300460
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 10/20/2017
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,116,815
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Sidney Dekker (PhD, The Ohio State University, 1996) is currently Professor at Griffith University in Brisbane, where he runs the Safety Science Innovation Lab. More at

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: A Case for Change

Chapter 2: We know what’s best for you

Chapter 3: Authoritarian High Modernism

Chapter 4: The safety bureaucracy

Chapter 5: What gets measured, gets manipulated

Chapter 6: The infantilization of us

Chapter 7: A new religion

Chapter 8: A non-deterministic world

Chapter 9: Anarchy versus anarchism

Chapter 10: Ways out



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