Hastam prides itself in being at the forefront internationally of research and development in safety and health. The company’s consulting has been fed by the results of academic research and teaching both at Aston University (Richard Booth), and the Safety Science Group at Delft University in the Netherlands (Andrew Hale). This cross-fertilisation of the results of academic study with the practical field-experience of other Hastam directors and associates has been vital in shaping Hastam. Some of the most important themes researched are listed below. References to publications from the two universities on each of the topics are given in the text. See below for guidance on how to access some of these publications.
Management of Safety Rules and Procedures
Where are safety rules and procedures essential and where are they just a way of avoiding responsibility by imposing it on others? How should they be formulated and how monitored and modified?
Rules and procedures have long been a cornerstone of safety management . Andrew’s most recent study from 2012 produced a literature review and guidance notes for how to develop, monitor and improve rule management (IOSH website ).
Competence, Capability and Certification of Safety Professionals
What should safety professionals know and be capable of doing for their employers and clients? How can competence be acquired and how tested and certified?
Andrew, Richard and Tony have been involved since the 1970s in researching, developing and giving education and training to safety professionals and regulators. Andrew’s own thesis  provided the structure and content of the first Aston M.Sc. and Diploma courses. Richard and Andrew were early participants through NEBOSH and IOSH in developing certification at national level in the UK. Andrew undertook research at European (ENSHPO ) and later at international (INSHPO ) levels to understand what safety professionals do in practice across the world. This led to the INSHPO harmonised set of required competencies of safety professionals at the two levels of manager and technician, with considerable emphasis on soft skills.
Evaluation of Safety Interventions
What works as an intervention to improve safety and health, and what is just fine words but a waste of time and money? How can we evaluate what works and what is good practice?
There is increasing emphasis on evidence-based practice in safety and health. Sadly there is very little good evaluation of the effectiveness of safety interventions in practice. We rely too much on anecdotal evidence and ‘fashion’ to decide what methods to try (Safety training ,). Andrew conducted research over many years to evaluate the effect of a range of different safety management and culture interventions in 16 companies ,,. The results show the effectiveness of setting up a continuing dialogue between shop floor and supervision to monitor and improve safety behaviour and risk control measures. It emphasises the value of reporting dangerous situations to drive this dialogue. It shows not only the importance of active senior management involvement, but also the need for creative and persistent safety professionals providing the motor for improvement.
The methods needed to evaluate interventions are set out in a NIOSH book .
Learning from successes and failures
What key performance indicators (KPIs) are good measures of success and failure with which to monitor the success of OHS management and safety performance, especially when accidents rarely happen? How can KPIs be managed to avoid them becoming side-stepped? What can be learned both from things that go wrong and things that go right?
Tony has long studied and taught the skills and accident models needed to answer many of these questions, through his accident investigation courses. He is also the brains behind Hastam’s best seller of an audit tool (CHASE) which assesses proactively the health of the safety management system. A new version of this, suitable for web-based use is now marketed under the title of Pro-Evaluate .
Performance indicators  and their associated learning must be derived from clear models of how accidents happen and these models have always been a mainstay of the Master’s courses run in Aston and Delft. They were also the subject of PhD theses  and research papers  at both universities
Safety management systems and safety culture; modelling and measurement of structure and function
What should be the structure and functioning of safety (and health) management systems in different organisations? How should we conceptualise safety culture in order to assess and develop it? How can their functioning and resilience be monitored, above all proactively?
Ever since the classic accident reports after disasters such as Flixborough, Chernobyl and Piper Alpha the focus of OHS research has expanded to incorporate these questions. Delft developed SMS models, particularly for major hazard organisations, which supported more structured analysis of SMS functioning and the ability to link management processes to quantitative reliability and risk assessments . They were also at the forefront of work to assess and improve safety culture . In the UK Richard made (and still makes) significant contributions to the development and internationalisation of safety management standards for BSI and ISO, supported by the cogent analysis and critique from Tony.
Transport safety: new technology, design and safety evaluation
What can transport safety learn from occupational and major hazard safety and vice versa? How can the process of design, development and introduction of new technology in transport systems be improved to take more account of safety and risk control?
Until the 1980s road, rail, maritime and aviation safety were long pursued in isolation from each other and from OHS. After that a sharing of approaches, assessment tools and models resulted from new career paths. For example, Richard moved from the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) to Aston (OHS). Andrew moved the opposite way from Aston (OHS) to Delft, where his group conducted many PhD studies and contract research projects in transport. These included studies of safety rules in railways , evaluation tools for road safety measures , the role and skills of vessel traffic controllers  and driver behaviour at road intersections .
Safety behaviour, risk perception and situation awareness
How do people perceive a situation or activity as dangerous? What pictures do they have in their heads of risks and how can these be improved? What do concepts such as accident proneness, safety culture, safety consciousness and mindfulness mean and how can they be used?
These issues formed the basis for Andrew’s book in 1987 . His fascination with risk perception led to work on how to understand the way people structure their perceptions of risks , what influences modify those perceptions  and how to structure rules and training to fit those structures.
Journal articles and books mentioned on these pages are the copyright of the publisher, except where indicated that they are freely downloadable. For copyrighted articles the authors are only allowed to send a private copy to an individual on the promise that it will not be uploaded to any site allowing downloads. If you want such a private copy please e-mail the Hastam director who is (co-)author. PhD theses from UK universities are available through the British Library. Theses from Dutch Universities are available only from the authors or their publishers