Behind the Scenes Start Here

Safety Engineering Jobs in Australia

Are you looking for Safety Engineering Jobs in Australia?  Thinking of moving into the profession and wondering if it’s worth it?  Already a safety engineer and thinking of moving to Australia (Poms, take note)?  Then this article is for you!


The most popular online job site in Australia is If we go on this website and search for jobs, let’s say, up to $200,000 salary, we will see about a quarter of a million jobs listed.

I can tell you from personal experience that the market for skilled jobs is very buoyant at the moment. Recruiting is very difficult and this is driving up salaries.

Now, out of those quarter of a million jobs, if we search on the terms safe or safety, we will get somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 hits. Of course, this does not mean that there are that many safety jobs.  Lots of job ads include the word ‘safe’ or ‘safety’ as a motherhood and apple pie statement. “We are committed to having a safe working environment”, or something like that.

Specific Types of Safety Jobs

The seek search engine helps us. If we just type in the word ‘safe’ it comes up with five suggestions, and these are safety advisor, safety engineer, safety officer, safety coordinator, and safety manager.

  • Safety Advisor – 2,000 jobs;
  • Safety Officer – 2,000 jobs;
  • Safety Coordinator – 880 jobs;
  • Safety Manager – 2,200 jobs; and
  • Safety Engineer – 700 jobs.

Let’s quickly deal with the terminology here. Safety officer, safety coordinator, and safety advisor are jobs that tend to be in the work health and safety or WHS area. This is what we used to call occupational health and safety in Australia.

If you want a job in these areas you will often find that you need industry-specific experience, because you are dealing with quite hands-on issues of occupational health and safety. Wages are okay in these sectors, although not spectacular.

If you want to work in Safety and earn more money, you probably need to look at becoming a safety manager or safety engineer.

There are quite a lot of safety manager jobs available. And they are in all sorts of industries. You’re going to need quite a lot of safety experience in order to get one of these jobs, be it in WHS or safety engineering. You will also need to be able to manage other people, rather than doing hands-on engineering work yourself.

We will look at safety management another time.

Let’s Look at Safety Engineer Jobs

Out of 700 safety engineer jobs, this is where they are.  No surprise that engineering is top of the list, but only 44% of safety engineer jobs are in engineering.

Mining, Resources & Energy76
Government & Defence58
Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics48
Trades & Services41
Information & Communication Technology17
Human Resources & Recruitment16
Administration & Office Support10
Hospitality & Tourism7
Call Centre & Customer Service3
Science & Technology3
Education & Training2
CEO & General Management1
Consulting & Strategy1
Marketing & Communications1
Real Estate & Property1
Retail & Consumer Products1
Table – breakdown of Safety Engineer Jobs by Employment Sector

We can see the breakdown better in this table.  Construction, Mining, Resources & Energy, Government & Defence, Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics, and Trades & Services account for another 44% of positions.  Many of these categories should come as no surprise.  Mining and Resources are Australia’s biggest export earners (followed by education, interestingly).  Ours is a vast country with plenty of room to expand, so construction, Transport & Logistics are always going to be big employers.

Histogram – breakdown of Safety Engineer Jobs by Employment Sector

Government & Defence are big purchasers and operators of sophisticated equipment, so their need for safety expertise is high.  We still make things in Australia, so Manufacturing is in there, and we also have a very strong service economy (remember I mentioned education earlier?) so Trades & Services feature as well.

Pie Chart – breakdown of Safety Engineer Jobs by Employment Sector

Last, ICT, Human Resources & Recruitment, Sales, etc., mop up the remaining 12%.  In this ‘tail’, a wide variety of sectors advertise for just a few positions.

It’s clear that if we want to do safety engineering then we should not limit ourselves to the ‘engineering’ industry.  Many more domains need and want our services.

Diving Deeper into Engineering

As Engineering is the biggest sector, let’s look deeper into that.  Systems Engineering and Civil/Structural Engineering comprise a third of positions, as do Project Engineering, Electrical/ Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.  Again, a wide variety of other sectors make up the final third.

Systems Engineering62
Civil/Structural Engineering40
Project Engineering37
Electrical/Electronic Engineering35
Mechanical Engineering30
Building Services Engineering19
Process Engineering8
Project Management8
Aerospace Engineering7
Environmental Engineering6
Industrial Engineering6
Chemical Engineering4
Automotive Engineering3
Engineering Drafting3
Water & Waste Engineering2
Table – breakdown of Safety Engineer Jobs in Engineering by Sub-sector

This is illustrated nicely by the histogram, below.  Note how diverse safety engineering disciplines are – no one sector really dominates here.  

Histogram – breakdown of Safety Engineer Jobs in Engineering by Sub-sector

Again, the split is nicely illustrated by the pie chart, below.  We can clearly see how the top five sectors offer two-thirds of the jobs.

Pie Chart – breakdown of Safety Engineer Jobs in Engineering by Sub-sector

System Safety Engineering Job Adverts

To see what employers say they are looking for (not everyone can write an accurate job description), I have analysed a bunch of job adverts.  I looked at 22 adverts for system safety engineering jobs offering a full-time salary of up to $100k, which is basically entry-level in Australia.  I concentrated on the responsibilities that applicants should expect to hold. The results are summarized in this word cloud (thanks Tag Crowd ), below.

Word Cloud – from 22 adverts for system safety engineering jobs

As we can see, there are some obvious words that come up repeatedly – engineering, experience, safety, system – which really tell us nothing.  The next level down is more useful – development, design, management, requirements, and project.  (I notice also ‘support’ and ‘team’ but these are very widely-used words, aren’t they?  Nobody wants an uncooperative loner who won’t provide support.)

For context, and a better understanding, let’s look at the most common phrases in our sample (thanks Online Text Analyzer).  These all recur four times in our sample:

  • “experience with aerospace and/or defence projects”;
  • “strong understanding of systems engineering principles and lifecycle”;
  • “with aerospace and/or defence projects highly”;
  • “aerospace and/or defence projects highly regarded”;
  • “understanding of systems engineering principles and lifecycle management”; and
  • “experience in complex technical development and integration projects”.

We need to be a little bit careful here.  Clearly, there are one or more employers looking for experience in aerospace and defence, and their ads are using certain stock phrases repeatedly.  As we’ve seen earlier in this article, ‘Government and Defence’ is a significant employer of safety engineers, but aerospace jobs are quite rare. 

Nevertheless, if we look through this bias we can discern a need for understanding, particularly of systems engineering principles and the systems engineering lifecycle.  We also need to deal with complex technical development and integration projects.

Thus, in summary, there is a discernible focus on:

  • Development & design;
  • Management;
  • Requirements;
  • Systems engineering principles;
  • Systems engineering lifecycle;
  • Complex technical development; and
  • Complex integration projects.

There is nothing here to surprise an experienced Systems Engineer (but this article isn’t really written for experts but for those who want in). It’s nice to see it spelt out: this is what employers are willing to pay for.

Next Time…

That was ‘Safety Engineering Jobs in Australia’ – back to the Blog. Need some courses to help you along? They’re here.

Next time I will look at exemplary safety engineer resumes, and I will analyse some salary bands … until then, what’s your view of the safety jobs market in Australia?

Behind the Scenes Blog

Career Change

Career change: in my lecture to the System Engineering Industry Program at the University of Adelaide, I reflect on my career changes. What can you learn from my experiences? (Hint: a lot, I hope!)

I want to talk about career changes because all of you – everyone listening – have already started to make them. You’ve already made the ‘career change’ from being a school student to coming here. You’re going to graduate – hopefully – and then move on into industry or academia or whatever you choose to do. And there are a lot of things to take in. Some of them are directly relevant to safety. But a lot of these things are relevant to whatever you’re doing.

I’m a High-School Student: How Can I Plan My Career Path?

When I was a student at school, I knew what I wanted to do. I guess I was quite lucky in that respect. I wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force. But then I flunked my first eye test at 14, and I knew that was the end of that dream. So I had to choose something else. And I ended up becoming an engineer in the Air Force.

The relevance of that is that I joined the Air Force before I went to university, and they paid me some money. They paid my fees (Well, there weren’t fees at the time.) I know it’s a strange concept these days, but University was free back in the day. But far fewer people went to university, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

But I’d gone from school, where I was in the top three of everything in every class.  Then I started doing my engineering course at university. I found myself in the bottom quarter of the class in terms of performance. So that was a bit of a shock, I have to say. I suddenly realized that I was now a small fish in a much bigger bowl. I suppose if you never leave Adelaide, you never have to experience that.

But if those of you do move on and move out of the Goldfish Bowl is ‘Adle’-brain, you’ll discover there’s a big world out there. One with lots of competition. And it’s a very exciting world, but it can be a little bit frightening sometimes. But anyway, I got through it. Most of us got through the course. I was doing an aerospace systems engineering course, and we had a wash-out rate of about 10% in the first year. But if you survived your first year, it got easier.

I’ve got these questions – I lifted these questions, actually, from an essay education website. It’s a bit tongue in cheek saying, ‘How can I plan my career path?’. Because when you’re at school, you don’t really have any idea about what work is all about. Unless maybe you’ve got a part-time job. Or your family owns a business or whatever, and you’ve worked in it, and you have a more realistic idea of what work is. But work is very different from school, as I’m sure you know, and University is very different from school.

I’m a Graduate: What Do I Do Next?

And then when I graduate, I think, ‘Well, I had a career path mapped out for me’, which was ‘Join the Air Force’. But I had some second thoughts. University opened my eyes and widened my horizons. And I thought about doing other things. ‘Should I stick with the Air Force?’. Although, there was always the issue that I’d have to pay them back lots of money, which I didn’t have. So, I decided to stay.

And so, you’re thinking as a graduate, ‘Well, what do I do next?’. There’re opportunities in the public sector, working for the government. There’re opportunities in the private sector. Do I go for a small or medium or work for a large firm? Do I stay in academia and do some research? What do I do? (Do you all go straight to a master’s on your course? Or is it a bachelor’s?) So maybe you think, ‘Well, do I stay and do a master’s?’ ‘Do I stay and do a Ph.D.?’ My results weren’t good enough to do a Ph.D. so that was a decision I didn’t have to make.

There are lots of choices. And there are pros and cons of working for large firms and small firms or the public sector. I have to say the public sector is probably better at training you and investing in you. This is because they typically employ large numbers of people. And certainly, the Air Force was very enlightened about the way it did education.

And a lot of people in the Air Force studying – even the troops who had maybe joined the Air Force early, those who left school at 16 with very few qualifications. Lots of people were doing a part-time study with the Open University. A lot of people I worked with did that. Part of my job was to help them get through trying to do a master’s degree in software engineering or safety part-time and support them. Which was a great privilege and I really enjoy doing that. So, you’ve got lots of choices.

So, there’re lots of opportunities out there for you. Do go out and look at what’s out there. And as I say, some firms will have a formal graduate development scheme. Others will not. It’ll be an informal scheme, but make your mind up about which way you want to go. And what you want. Always bearing in mind, of course, that, as you’ll have seen, I ended up making a series of big career changes. I had no idea I was going to do those things. I got into software by accident. I got into safety by accident. Sorry, but no cheesy pun intended.

I’m a Veteran: How Can I Make the Career Change into Industry?

And then when I left the Air Force after 20 years, I had to make a career change from Air Force into ‘Civvy Street’, as it was known. And fortunately for me, the Air Force – in fact, all the armed forces in the UK – had a really good career change scheme. A scheme where you’re entitled to go back to the classroom and you could do courses. There were some basic courses everybody had to do.

Specifically, one where you were taught how to deal with grief, surprisingly. Because if you’ve been institutionalized in a large employer for a long, long time and you only know one way of doing things, then it’s difficult to leave. Then when you leave that and you’ve got to go out and make your own decisions and stuff, and that’s really challenging.

And the forces introduced this career change scheme based on – I think it was at a New York Police Department experience. The New York police discovered that a lot of their veterans who left the police force were dying after only a few years of retirement. And they thought ‘This is weird. They’ve done this dangerous job all their lives, and then they leave and then they all die’.

Of natural causes, I should say, and suicide. And the New York police said, ‘We’re not preparing our people to leave the stresses and strains of the police and get used to a completely different way of life.’. Fortunately, the force has introduced this career change training to help you do that. To learn practical skills. I did my project management training, et cetera.

So, that was helpful. And often I would say, if you’re going to make a career change, retraining is often a big part of that. Whether it’s the cause or the effect of the career change.

I’m Looking for A Career Change: What Are My Options?

In all of these things – as I say, I’ve done a lot of changes in my career. Some of my career was planned, but a great deal of it was not. And that’s okay. Sometimes choices are made for you by personal circumstances or whatever. I decided I had to leave the Air Force because our daughter was about to go to secondary school. We couldn’t afford to move around anymore and disrupt her education. So, the choice was made for me.

But also you might be tracking along quite nicely in your job and an opportunity comes up. And you think, ‘Well, I’d never thought about doing that, but actually, this is interesting. I’ve just got to try this.’ And I would encourage you to do that.

I’m An Employer: How Can I Ensure I Have the Workforce I Need?

One of the things I do nowadays – what I have done for a long time – is interview people. Whether it be for Frazer-Nash, QinetiQ before, or even in the Air Force. Because some of the jobs I was in were specialists and we had the right to interview. We could choose people. We could choose volunteers. So, I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people over many years. And potential employers are looking for the right people to employ. You’re looking for a good employer. How do I perform an interview and get that job? Or that career that I want?

And it’s not a secret, but when I’m interviewing people, if you rock up at the office, I’m going to find out what you do. What you’ve been doing academically. What you do outside of work. Because obviously – it’s not ‘obviously’, sorry. Often some of the most interesting things about people are what they do in their spare time. And you can learn a lot about somebody. People have got interests, particularly those who serve in different ways. Whether you volunteer for anything or sport or something like that. Because you often find that high achievers in life tend to be high achievers in everything.

And I’ve interviewed one or two people and they’ve gone out the door and I’ve looked at the other interviewer. And I’d say, ‘Well if we hire her, we’re all going to have to raise our game, aren’t we? Because she’s going to make us look bad.’. Which is a wonderful problem to have, by the way. You think ‘Great. We can get this person on the team who’s going to allow us to do something we’ve never done before.’. So, we’re looking for people that we can utilize. That we can deploy. What have you done? What tools and techniques are you able to use?

Consultancy is a bit unusual. Most of you will probably not start in consultancy. You probably won’t start in safety. In safety, most of us tend to have done another job first and then got into it for whatever reason. So, we’ve made that ‘career change’ as a graduate or an ex-graduate early in your career. I guess we’ll be looking mainly at your potential.

It’s not the technical skills so much that we’re looking for. Technical skills can be taught. If I want somebody who can do fault tree analysis, we can teach you how to do fault tree analysis. We can send you on a course. What I can’t or what is not so easy to teach is attitude and the way you approach work. And are you a team player and all those kinds of things? So, that’s often much more important.

I’m An Educator: How Can I Inspire or Educate?

I suppose this is what I’m trying to do today. In my spare time, I also run my own business called The Safety Artisan so please check it out. You can go to And there’re lots of lessons on there about safety. About Australian WHS and system safety. Some of it is free and some of it you have to pay me some money for which I will be very grateful. Thank you very much. The only problem is you have to listen to me talking, but never mind. You can’t have everything.

There’re a lot of opportunities out there, and I think the Australian jobs market is very dynamic. And it works both ways. Big firms will hire hundreds of people to do a project. And then some of them will then fire you just like that when the project is over. Not all firms are like that. Many are looking for people with transferable skills. If one door shuts, usually another door opens. So, we’re looking for people who can be flexible and adaptable. This is why I find myself doing cybersecurity these days as well as safety.

Reflections On a Career in Safety

I’ll move on to some quick reflections. It says ‘Reflections on a career in safety’ but you could apply this to almost anything. At University, I learned – and in training courses throughout my career – I’ve learned a theoretical framework. Whether it be engineering. Whether it be marketing. Marketing is a science and an art and a very complex one, for example.

So, whether it’s engineering or not, there’re lots of things to learn during your career. And you’ll get to learn on a course, or an institution like this – You’ll get to learn some theory. A framework to plug things into. But actually, it’s the practical experience where you sort of put the flesh on the bones, and the two go together.

And then the second point I’d just like to make on reflection. To a degree, I would say go with the flow because opportunities will come up that you hadn’t planned for. That you hadn’t thought of. But give it a go. If you’ve got an opportunity, try it. Particularly as I found, if the alternative is doing something you really don’t want to do. That makes the choice a lot easier. But go for it.

Also, you’ve got to remember to stick to your principles. So, you’ve got to decide what’s important to you and hold on to those values. Otherwise, you could end up doing something you’re not happy with. In fact, somebody much cleverer than me once said that the secret or the art of progress is to “preserve change amidst order and preserve order amidst change”. And those are very wise words. So, decide what’s really important to you. What you will not change. What you will not compromise on under any circumstances. But other than that, go for it.

And finally, in safety and in many other things, I’ve seen people tend to overcomplicate things. I think Einstein said, if you can’t explain something in simple terms, you don’t really understand it. And that’s a very challenging quote but it’s very true. So, there’s a lot of complexity out there. And that’s the whole point of systems engineering, isn’t it? To deal with complexity. So, big programs, are complex things and difficult to understand. But it’s all about boiling it down to something simple. And then, understanding what those core principles are and holding fast onto them while dealing with the complexity. So, a little plug for systems engineering.

I’m very happy to talk about systems engineering, it’s so important to safety.

Do You have any Career Change Questions? Leave a Comment, below.

Behind the Scenes


Testimonials from 20+ years in the industry. Hear what some clients and ex-colleagues have to say about The Safety Artisan.

The way you teach this subject makes it comprehensible and part of an integral whole. It seems like your approach is rare (and valuable) in the world of System Safety.

Thomas Anthony
Director, Aviation Safety and Security Program
Viterbi School of Engineering
University of Southern California

“Hi Simon, I would just like to say that the content you have been putting out recently is absolutely amazing and I enjoy reading and listening through it.”

James Moodie

“Simon, Love the even-handed approach you’ve adopted and also the tongue-in-cheek comments.” 

Paul Bird, Former Manager Safety Engineering, BAES Australia

“Explanation about the military standard was very interesting, because for the first time somebody talked about possible disadvantages.”

Henri Van Buren, reviewing “System Safety Risk Analysis Programs”

“Valuable information, Clear explanations, Engaging delivery, Helpful practice activities, Accurate course description, Knowledgeable instructor.”

Manuel Louie B. Santos, reviewing “Risk Management 101”

“Understanding safety law can be difficult and, at times, confronting.  Thankfully, Simon has a knack of bringing clarity to complex legal requirements, using real work examples to help understanding.  I highly recommend Simon to any director or manager wanting to understand their legal obligations and ensure a safe workplace.”

Jonathan Carroll, Senior Leadership, Pacific National

“Simon, You are and always will be the master at explaining the way Safety management works in real life. It is great to see your broad and vast experience being available through this medium and The Safety Artisan website. I will definitely be dropping in to seek your trusted guidance.”

Kevin Payne, Systems Safety Consultant at QinetiQ
Testimonials from My Udemy Courses…click here

Risk Management 101 3.97 Course Rating

Oliver Lawrence Sim: Valuable information, Clear explanations, Engaging delivery, Helpful practice activities, Accurate course description, Knowledgeable instructor

Risk Management 101 3.97 Course Rating

Keerthana.K: Valuable information, Clear explanations, Engaging delivery, Helpful practice activities, Accurate course description, Knowledgeable instructor

System Safety Risk Analysis Programs 4.49

Joshua Nairn: Valuable information, Clear explanations, Engaging delivery, Helpful practice activities, Accurate course description, Knowledgeable instructor

My CISSP 2021 Exam Journey 4.11 Course Rating

Alex dos Santos Fuck: Valuable information, Clear explanations, Engaging delivery, Helpful practice activities, Accurate course description, Knowledgeable instructor

Risk Management 101 3.97 Course Rating

Lee Ashcroft: Valuable information, Clear explanations, Engaging delivery, Helpful practice activities, Accurate course description, Knowledgeable instructor

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Behind the Scenes

How to Get the Most from The Safety Artisan #3

This is ‘How to Get the Most from The Safety Artisan #3’.

Last time #2, I posted about the two major focus areas for The Safety Artisan’s teaching. These are System Safety and Australian Work Health and Safety or WHS.

In my first post, I talked about the fundamental lessons under the start here topic. Even if you are experienced in safety, you may find that things are done very differently in another industry or country – I did. 

Now for Something Completely Different

Hi everyone and welcome, to The Safety Artisan. I’m your host, Simon. In this post, I want to talk about how you can connect with me, The Safety Artisan, and get more out of the website.

There are three ways you can do this.

Sign Up for Free Monthly Email Updates

First of all, you can sign up for free monthly emails. In these, I share with subscribers what has recently been released on the website, and what is coming up in the near future.

You will never miss a topic or a subject that you might be interested in!

Front cover of PHIA Guide
Subscribe to The Safety Artisan Mailing List and get your Free Gift!

If you sign up, you will also get a free digital download and a discount offer on a bundle of courses. So what are you waiting for?

Follow on YouTube or Social Media

Second, you can follow the safety Artisan on YouTube or on social media. If you sign up on my YouTube Channel and tick for notifications, you will be reminded every time I issue a new video lesson.

I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google My Business, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Vkontakte. Phew! 

On LinkedIn, you can see my full resume/CV and find my most popular articles.

Just Get in Touch

Third, you can directly get in touch with me by commenting on a post – ask a question! There is no such thing as a ‘dumb’ question, only dumb accidents.

You can also ask general questions by filling in the form on the Connect Page. (This is better than sending me a Direct Message on social media, as I get a lot of spam.)

There are a lot of different topics that I could cover. It is surprisingly difficult to find out what people really like to hear about. So, if there’s something that you want to learn about then just ask. I will bump the topic up on my ‘to do’ list.

That’s All, folks!

Well, that’s it from me, I hope you enjoy The Safety Artisan website and get as much as you can out of it. See you soon!

How to Get the Most from #3: What subjects do you want?

Leave a comment.

Behind the Scenes

How to Get the Most fromThe Safety Artisan #2

Hi everyone, and welcome to The Safety Artisan. I’m Simon, your host. This is ‘How to Get the Most from The Safety Artisan #2’.

In my previous post (#1) I talk about the Start Here topic page. There you will find lessons that deal with fundamental issues – most of them are free.

This time I’m talking about two other topic areas, which are the main focus of The Safety Artisan – so far. 

System Safety

The first topic is system safety. I spend a lot of time talking about system safety because it’s used in so many different industries. You can apply its principles to just about anything.

And because it takes a systematic approach to safety you can scale it up or down. It is used on the biggest, multinational, multi-billion dollar projects you can imagine. You can also tailor it so that it can be used sensibly on much smaller projects. You can get good results for a lot less money and time.

So I present a whole suite of sessions on system safety, in particular how to do system safety analysis according to a US Military Standard 882E. Whether you’re working on US military systems or not doesn’t matter. The principles, practices, and procedures in the standard will equip you to tackle almost any standard.

But you’ve got to understand your standard, and what it was designed to achieve. Then you can make it work for you.

Australian Work Health and Safety

The second topic that I cover in detail is Australian Work Health and Safety (WHS). I’ve done a series on WHS because I find that is often misunderstood.

Unusually for health and safety legislation, WHS covers not just workplace health and safety, but the duties of designers, manufacturers, importers, installers, and users of plant, substances, and structures. In fact, anyone who is involved through its lifecycle.

Coming to Australia?

WHS also contains and concepts like ‘So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable or SFAIRP/SFARP. These are often misunderstood and misapplied. This is a shame because the public guidance that is out there is excellent.

For example, I introduce Codes of Practice, especially the ones that tell you how to manage risk and Consult, Cooperate, and Coordinate on WHS matters. From my personal experience, I explain how to use this guidance and how to get results.

Even if you don’t work in Australia, you’ll find that many principles used in WHS law are found in other western nations. For example, I compared safety laws in the UK and Australia, based on my experience of working in both countries.

How to Get the Most from The Safety Artisan #2: Coming Soon…

Next time, I talk about how you can connect and interact with The Safety Artisan to get better learning results for you!

Behind the Scenes

How to Get the Most from The Safety Artisan #1

In this post, ‘How to Get the Most from The Safety Artisan #1’ I will show you some of the free resources you can access…


Hi everyone, and welcome to The Safety Artisan, my name is Simon and I’m a professional system safety engineer with more than 25 years of experience in various industries.

Simon Di Nucci, FIE(Aust), MSc, CPEng NER

In the next three posts, I’m going to tell you how to get the most from The Safety Artisan website. I’m going to start with the basics. 

Start Here

As the name suggests, start here is a good place for newcomers to start looking at blog posts and lesson videos. Most of them are Free!

Now, before you skip this bit because you’ve done some work in safety before, let me share two things with you.


I have worked on many projects where we didn’t have a clear and unambiguous idea of what ‘safe’ means. I’m not joking!

That’s right, we were spending lots of money trying to make something safe, but we didn’t really know what that meant. Surprisingly, the bigger and more expensive the project, the more difficult it is to get a clear picture of the basics. This might sound daft but on a big project, you have to work hard to stay focused on the fundamental principles of what you’re trying to achieve.

If from the very beginning, you can understand clearly what safe means in your particular domain is, and how are you are going to manage risk, then you can arrive at a successful end game. But it’s not easy.

Second, Differences Across Countries and Industries

Another point to note is that many industries do things differently. You may have worked in rail, or in a chemical plant, or with ships, submarines, or planes and you know how safety works in your industry. But it’s still good to learn from others – and their mistakes.

‘Learn from others’ Mistakes’ said Bismark.

I have worked in all of these industries – and more – and I can tell you that the way things are done in different domains varies greatly. So when you’re going for an interview, or when you’re starting a new job, you might get some surprises…

The law on safety (and environmental protection) also varies from country to country. I’ve worked on projects in the UK, Australia, Europe, and the USA, and there are significant differences in practice. In particular, I emigrated from the UK to Australia, and I’ve compared practices in the two countries.

Coming Next…

Next week I will tell you about the more advanced topics that I cover. In the Third Post, I will talk about how you can connect with The Safety Artisan and get the online learning that YOU want.

Behind the Scenes

Q&A: Reflections on a Career in Safety

Now we move on to Q&A: ‘Reflections on a Career in Safety’.

Q&A Session | Q&A Session | Q&A Session | Q&A Session

How do you Keep People Engaged with Safety?

Q.           I was thinking of an idea as I was walking here, and you did mention just in your slide about going with the flow that sometimes people who stop listening to you I’ve seen a lot of people come up with safety systems where there’s a lot of forms and paperwork to fill out. And a lot of the people who are doing it just go. It’s just paperwork. It doesn’t do anything for safety. It’s somebody else covering their butt.

Whereas what when I look at them, what they are is almost a prompt to get people to think about the things that can bite them. Yeah. Keep that idea of what’s in front of them in their heads rather than letting that go into the. Is just paperwork for paperwork’s sake. Yeah. How do you keep them engaged in using that as a tool rather than a liability reduction?

A.           Yeah, I think, first of all, there’s got to be a bit of education. They’ve got to understand that they’re dealing with things that are potentially dangerous. I mean, that’s required anyway. You’ve got to warn users and them the information that they need. But I think mostly it’s about how you engage with people. If you show if you sell it to them, there’s a benefit to doing this. And you talk in a language that they understand you’re much more likely to get listened to.

I’ve been to lots of places where people have had awful procedures that don’t help them get the job done, it’s slow and clunky and they often get ignored. So the trick is to try and make the procedures as helpful to get the job done as possible. And of course, if you can build in safety so people don’t have to follow so many procedures, that’s even better. If they physically can’t do something dangerous, then that’s great.

That’s much more effective than procedures anyway. But it is all about speaking the user’s language. So, [for example] I learned that with pilots, pilots have got a particular way of thinking and you can give them a rule that says don’t do this, but it might not actually make any sense in that context. So you’ve got to understand what their context is. You can they can only follow a rule if it’s based on information that’s actually available to them.

So you can say, don’t go below 10,000 feet while doing this or don’t exceed the speed. Otherwise, the wings might fall off. That that they understand. If you gave them a load of technical garble about stuff, they probably wouldn’t pay much attention.

That said, you do sometimes have to tell people the bleeding obvious because I remember a known British pilot took off in a plane where the fuel warnings were showing on the wing tanks, but the pilot still took the plane and then got in the air and no fuel was coming out of the wing. So he had to land the plane pretty quickly before it ran out of fuel. And I was going to bring in some advice to our pilots to say: don’t do that. If you see the yellow stripes on the wings, that’s a bad scene on the display. That’s a bad sign. And somebody said to me, oh, no British pilot would be stupid enough to do that. And like a fool, I believed him.

So they did do that. And then right now we’re having the rule that says, don’t do that, because it was needed. So there’s always a fine balance is a bit of give and take. Thanks for the questions. Yeah. Anyone else, anyone else?

Which Project was Most Influential on Your Life?

Q.           If you can share what’s one of the projects that you worked on that was probably the most influential in your life or that you thought was definitely helpful for where you are now.

A.           That’s a really good question. Well, I suppose the big one in my life was Eurofighter because I spent 13 years, on and off, on Eurofighter and I got to work with some fantastic people; in theory, I was their manager. But in reality, they knew 100 times as much about the subject as I did and I learned a lot from them.

So, yeah, I would say because of that, the sheer number of people. But there were lots of jobs where I got a lot out of it professionally or personally … But yeah, I think it’s the people, wherever you are.

I’ve seen a lot of teams. They’ve got terrible workplace conditions, work in an old dilapidated building. They haven’t got enough spares. They haven’t got enough tools or anything. Everything is against them. But if they’re a good bunch of people, they’ll still achieve great things and enjoy doing it.

How do you Make a Safety System Responsive?

Q.           OK. Oh, so you’re talking about these very complicated systems where you permitted people to do work so really planned because they’re so difficult. You’ve really planned how work has to happen. But the things that you’re working on, stuff that theoretically most operations at the moment are small arms and things, but people can shoot holes in the things that you’re working on. And if the 10,000 tanks come over, then you’ve got potentially a lot more holes all of a sudden.

How do you go from that very regimented system and then work out how to make it also really, really fast and responsive to something that keeps throwing up problems at a much higher rate than I’d imagine you can fill out the forms to give permission to the person to do the work as is the usual practice.

A.           So you’re using the same system over and over and over again. And people will spend years using the same system, maybe on the same equipment or the same plane or whatever it is.

So people are well-practiced. Another technique is if people are overtrained and they got lots of experience, then they can often cope in adverse circumstances. So sometimes you just have to cut corners in order to get a job done. And it’s having the experience and the knowledge to do that safely and still get the result you need that, that’s the judgment side. That’s the stuff that you can’t write down. But mostly it’s through practice.

So, we would follow a very regimented process. But once you’ve done it enough times, it became second nature.  It’s like training an athlete. Once you’ve got the regular way of doing things down pat, it then becomes a lot easier to spot when you’ve got to do something a bit different and cope with it.

Q&A: How do you Determine Safety Requirements? How do you Detect Safety Issues in Software?

Q.           So I’ll try and combine these because the time’s getting on and I’ve got a lot of questions, you’re talking about safety and software and safety being an emergent phenomenon, and you’re not necessarily going to know that something you do in software is going to cause. An issue with the typhoon is very software-controlled aircraft, so the computer says is close to what’s going to happen over the pilot in a lot of ways. You also talked about putting safety into requirements.

Some requirements may or may not like you could have a direct safety requirement, but there could be other requirements that can impact safety without it being explicit. Yeah, how do you detect that in a set of system or user requirements? And how do you detect safety issues in software systems that look like they’re doing what they’re supposed to do?

A.           Yeah, so do the requirements bit first.  Sometimes you get a bunch of requirements and you’ve just got to go through them and look for safety implications. Sometimes it’s really obvious like the customer says, I want this safety system installed in my ship.  The ship has got to be built in accordance with certain rules, class rules, or whatever they might be. And you go, OK, a lot of that will be safety-related.

And sometimes you’ve got to do some work. You’ve got to decompose the requirements and look at how are you going to solve the problem and go, OK, the requirements are pushing us to have this high-energy system in my ship. OK, there are safety issues with managing that and making sure it doesn’t get out of control. So sometimes it only emerges after you’ve done further work after you’ve kind of decomposed your initial requirements.

But if the people doing the requirements, you might have systems engineers on the client-side and on the provider side. If they’re doing their job well, they’re processing the requirements. And these things will tend to emerge quite well. If you’ve got good systems engineering. So that’s that one.

The software one, it all depends on how safe or how dependable you want the software to be.  Ultimately, the Eurofighter had a software-controlled flight control computer, and the aircraft in certain aspects was unstable. So the pilot could not fly it without the computer. So that’s as tough as it gets in terms of software safety, the computer cannot fail. OK, and to achieve that level of safety, the state of the art at the time was going through the source code in forensic detail, nailing down the compiler so that it was only allowed to do very basic things.

And then you produce the object code and then you go through the object code in forensic detail and then test it to death. So lots and lots of processes applied and there were still errors in the software because there always will be because there are so many. But you can at least say none of these errors will result in an unsafe outcome, provided, of course, that you’ve got a sufficiently detailed specification to say this is safe [whereas] and this is not OK.

So if you’re if you’ve got to go to that level of detail, you can forensically go through things. And then there are if you’ve heard of Safety Integrity Levels (SILs) or safety integrity requirements for different cells or different says, you can have a cookbook approach where you use different techniques. Usually, the toughest SIL is the state of the art at the time that the standard was created. That’s very crudely how you do it, and hopefully, you’ve got some competent people as well.

Host: Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us and explaining your journey through safety. Something that I think was interesting is that you raised it here. 

How do you Deal with People Using Stuff in Ways it Wasn’t Designed for?

Q.           I understand people’s motivation, the context of people’s motivations for using the equipment. And people might use it in ways that you don’t even dream of. Right, you might have designed something to do this or something. And then people stand on it to reach something else, that kind of thing, isn’t it?  I think when you move from being at university and going into industry and seeing how the equipment is actually used, you can blow your mind sometimes. Yeah.

A.           Yeah. Even people who had worked in the Ministry of Defence [for years], my boss was horrified at the idea that the Air Force would fly a plane that wasn’t totally serviceable. And to me, that was completely routine.  None of them worked totally as intended. There were some features that we just disabled all the time.

Host.     So, yes, that is also something that blows your mind.  Oh, thank you very much, Simon. Thank you and thank you, kind audience. Thanks for your participation.

Q&A Session | Q&A Session | Q&A Session | Q&A Session

This was part of a lecture to the University of Adelaide SEIP Course. You can the other sessions, as follows:

So that was ‘Reflections on a Career in Safety: Q&A’. Did you find it useful?

Behind the Scenes

Reflections on a Career in Safety, Part 5

In ‘Reflections on a Career in Safety, Part 5’, I finally get around to reflecting on personal lessons learned from my own career.

Reflecting on a Career in Safety

Very briefly, I just wanted to pick out three things.

Learning and Practice

First, at university in my first degree and in my master’s degree and in studies I’ve done since then (because you never stop learning) you pick up a theoretical framework, which is fantastic.  You learn to understand things from an abstract point of view or a theoretical point of view.

But there’s also practical experience, and the two complement each other. You can [start] a job. You’re usually doing the same thing over and over again. So you become very competent in that narrow area. But if you don’t have the theoretical framework to put it in, you’ve got all of these jewels of experience, but you can’t understand where they fit in in the big picture.

Wilhelmshaven, Picture by S. Di Nucci

And so that’s what your course here does. Whatever courses you do in the future, whatever learning you do in the future, the two complement each other, and actually they work together. Whether I turn up and I understand something from a theoretical point of view, or I’ve actually done it and learned the hard way (usually doing it the hard way is painful), the two are complementary and they’re [both] very useful to help you in your career.

Opportunism and Principles

Second, you’ve heard me say a couple of times I got into software by accident. I got into safety by accident. And it’s all true. An opportunity comes up and you’ve got to grab it either because you think, well, maybe this opportunity won’t come again or you’re trying to get out of a job that you don’t like or avoid doing something you don’t want to do, whatever it might be.

If you have an opportunity, I would say grab it, go for it, be positive and say yes to as many things as you can. And, if I dare to give you some career advice, it would be that.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

But also, in safety, we’ve got to stick to our principles. And sometimes as a safety engineer or an engineer who does safety, you’re going to have to stick to something that costs you, whether it be a promotion or, whether people no longer listen to you because you said, “no, we can’t do that” when it’s something that they really want to do.

You have to understand the difference between things that matter and things that don’t. So if you end up in safety, if you’re working with the safety of people, [you must] learn the things that cannot be negotiated.  There are certain requirements in the law and regulations, but they’re often not as onerous as people think. They’re often a lot simpler than people think. So understand: what has to be done and what is optional?  What is merely beneficial. And then you can make a sound judgment.


The final point. Einstein once famously said that if you can’t explain something in simple terms, then you don’t really understand it. And what you and I will all be doing for years to come is dealing with complexity, big projects, politics. A technical challenge, with not enough time to do something, not enough budget to do something. So lots of challenges.

I think it’s always a struggle to reduce [a problem] to something simple that you can understand and think: right, this is the essential point that we need to keep hold of. Everything else is kind of fluff and distraction.

So I would say my career in safety has been a constant effort to simplify and to understand the simple things that are important. And that’s what we need to stick to. And again, all of you, whether you do safety or not, you’re going to be dealing with complex systems. Otherwise, we’re not needed as systems engineers.

‘Decomposed’ F1 Racing Car, Brooklands. Photo Simon Di Nucci.

Q&A (Part 6) will follow next week!

New to System Safety? Then start here. There’s more about The Safety Artisan here. Subscribe for free regular emails here.

Behind the Scenes

Why Call it The Safety ‘Artisan’?

Why did I call my business The Safety ‘Artisan‘?

artisan/ˈɑːtɪzan,ɑːtɪˈzan/Learn to pronounce noun

A worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand. “street markets where local artisans display handwoven textiles, painted ceramics, and leather goods”

Why Call it The Safety ‘Artisan’?

Why The Safety ‘Artisan’?

Hi, everyone. When I was choosing a name for my business, I thought of quite a lot of alternatives, but I settled on The Safety Artisan for three reasons. First, I liked the meaning of the word, the idea of an individual person pursuing their craft and trying to do it to the very best of their abilities.

Second, I liked the application because I’ve worked on a lot of very large, even multi-billion-dollar projects; but we’re still knowledge workers. We’re still individuals who have to be competent at what we do in order to deliver a safe result for people.

And third, I liked the idea, the image of the cottage industry, the artisan working at home as I am now, and delivering goods and services that other people can use wherever they are. And indeed, you might be home or you might be on your mobile phone listening to this.

So I liked all three of those things. I thought, yes, that’s what I’m about. That’s what I believe in and want to do. And if that sounds good to you, too, then please check out The Safety Artisan, where I provide #safety #engineering #training.

Learn more about me here.

Behind the Scenes

Welcome to the New Website!

Welcome to the New Website! It has been professionally redesigned to provide a much better user experience by the awesome Sam Jusaitis. My thanks to him for doing such a great job.

The Main Pages

You can now browse through the main pages, which give you all the content that you might need, in the order that you choose it:

  • Topics. This page showcases the main safety topics that I cover, so far they are:
    • Start Here. Mostly free introductory videos for those new to safety;
    • Safety Analysis. A complete and in-depth suite of lessons on this subject; and
    • Work Health & Safety. All you need to know about Australian WHS legislation and practice.
  • About. Some information about The Safety Artisan – why you would choose safety tuition from me.
  • Connect. Here, you can sign up for free email newsletters, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and follow us on social media.
  • Frequently Asked Questions. The most commonly Googled questions are here, with links to posts and videos that answer them.
  • Checkout. You’ll get there if you purchase any of the downloadable videos and content – but there’s plenty of free stuff too!

Welcome to the New Website Logo

Sam also designed the new logo, which reminds some people of the human eye. It was actually derived from the shapes of various warning signs, as shown below. Clever, eh?