This paper argues that a participatory approach directly involving employees in safety barrier analysis can provide ‘added value’ to traditional barrier analyses. Employee participation (EP) could motivate employees to use their knowledge, suggest improvement measures and express their concerns.
EP has not received much attention from safety researchers, although one may find several indirect arguments for EP informing the influential safety theoretical perspectives. An example of how participatory safety barrier analysis can be completed and what can be accomplished through such an approach is illustrated via a case study from an offshore logistics chain, and by an analysis of barriers that should prevent collisions between supply vessels and offshore installations. Such collisions could be the initiating event for a major accident.
The empirical foundation for the paper is a hazard identification technique session, group and individual interviews, document studies and two search conferences involving approximately 150 participants. It is argued that a participatory approach to safety barrier analysis can reveal ‘holes’ in the defences that otherwise could have gone overlooked, and contribute to the generation of contextualized, definite measures that could strengthen a safety barrier system.