The Weekly Reflektion 14/2023

Situation awareness is about understanding what is going around you and being able to make good decisions based on the information available. Situation awareness also requires a recognition of the context for the information, and this is often determined by the person(s) experience. The connection between experience and situation awareness is important.

How will your people react in a hazardous situation?

A colleague in a previous company was Head of Training and as a former headmistress and teacher was well aware of the challenges in learning and creating a learning organisation. One weekend she was painting the house as her son played football in the garden with a few friends. The ball was kicked over the fence and her son jumped over the fence and ran onto the road to collect the ball. She shouted to her son and warned him about the dangers of traffic and that he could have been run over. The scolded boy went back to the game, and she decided to watch unobserved. It wasn’t long before the ball was kicked onto the road again and her son jumped the fence to retrieve the ball. Before running onto the road, he stopped and looked. Learning had occurred, or had it? The boy didn’t look to see if there were cars coming. He looked towards the place his mother had been painting to check if she was watching. When he couldn’t see his mother, he ran across the road and got the ball, without looking for traffic.

We become conditioned to look both ways before we cross a road. It is not something we always consciously think about,but it is usually something we do automatically. It becomes a habit. I was brought up with the Tufty Club, a road safety initiative started in the UK in 1953. I remember the adventures of Tufty and Bobby Brown Rabbit and his poor friend Willy Weasel who didn’t follow the rules and had a nasty traffic accident. Luckily Policeman Badger could sort them out. Then there was the Green Cross man and the TV commercials with his sudden appearance in front of children who didn’t follow the rules when crossing the road. The intention was that the Green Cross Man would scold the children and tell them how they should cross the road. This commercial backfired however as it left the impression that the Green Cross man would step in front of children that were in danger and save them.

The Tufty Club, Green Cross Man and similar were used to improve our situation awareness regarding crossing roads. These techniques create experiences that we learn from. In the airline industry simulators are used to create experiences that improve situation awareness. That is the pilot’s ability to gather information, understand the information and the context and be able to anticipate how a situation will develop. The anticipation includes how the pilot will react to hazardous situations.

The incident with a gas bottle explosion on the Heimdal platform 28th November 2019 and the Helge Ingstad collision 8th November 2018 are two incidents where lack of experience influenced situation awareness and led to an accident. These were the subject of Reflections in 2021 and 2022. Situation awareness is a theme that we would like to follow up at our next Breakfast Seminar at Ipark, Ullandhaug, Stavanger on the 3rd May 2023.

Reflekt AS