Safety – A Wicked Problem

Read about what leading CEOs have to say about OHS transformation. Our research reveals what CEOs and key stakeholders think about OHS and the need to totally rethink the safety paradigm. Find out what they would do to transform OHS performance in Australia today.

Download the full research paper, Safety – A Wicked Problem

5 Responses to “Safety – A Wicked Problem”

  1. Glenn Guilfoyle: June 27, 2010 at 3:04 am


    Nice read. Did you find that safety is a less wicked problem for those in the services sector than for those in manufacturing or distribution?

  2. Peter Wagner: June 30, 2010 at 2:40 am

    Hi Glenn,

    Thank you for your comment/question.

    No doubt the hazards and risks associated with work activities vary from industry to industry, however the key challenges remain the same. Each business must determine how safety is strategically positioned and how to support that positioning by providing appropriate supporting programs, initiatives, employee engagement, training and other resources necessary to meet the desired objectives. Organisations that do not pay sufficient attention will always struggle with their safety performance irrespective of their industry category. The concept that safety is a wicked problem holds true for all organisations.


  3. Steven Duke: July 16, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Peter

    I found the paper to be very comprehensive with asking some very good soul searching questions. I do see some of the ideals in action in small pockets of organizations however this requires resources and funding to take it to the next level. Something that is very challenging at the moment considering the economic climate that the globe is crawling out of.

    I shall forward this on to my colleagues and network of Safety professionals.

    Excellent work, well done and cheers

  4. Peter Harris: October 28, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Thanks Peter, I found the paper both interesting and thought provoking.

    I agree we have a fundamental problem with community complacency regarding work health & safety. It starts in the schools where safety barely rates a mention, and then leads to a tough challenge for those employers striving to build cultures (?islands) of safety.

    It concerns me that the public policy platform is overwhelmingly compliance focussed. This looks likely to be fed for some years by the interests and politics of “harmonisation”, model laws etc. Sadly, it is unlikely to lead to a “great leap forward” in safety outcomes. How long will it take before policy makers realise we have taken the wrong focus?

    Could business and union leaders take the lead in looking for a new direction? They are, or represent the core stakeholders in WH&S, after all . Could they focus on what should be a shared concern and withstand the noise created by other interests and politics?

    I hope your paper prompts such debate and discussion. Thankyou for taking such an initiative.

    Peter Harris

  5. Dennis Millard: April 21, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Hi Peter, I found your paper very interesting to ready, I believe we need to legislatively move away from compliance and dictator type mentality to manage risk. In industry we have so many documentation to tell us what to do but non of them really take into consideration the social psychology of risk. Learning to engage and listen to people and have healthy discussions on how they see the risk they are working with far out ways paper. Higher education in this area for all managers not just HSSE personnel is detrimental to the changes we need in our industry. I hope we start getting traction in this area. I come across your article on a valuable course I am doing with Dr. Rob Long (Human Dymentions). Keep up the great work,

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