DYSFUNCTIONAL PRACTICES that kill your Safety Culture

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Dysfunctional Practices

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What Safety Experts are Saying about Dysfunctional Practices

Dysfunctional Practices is a page-turner describing research-based principles of human dynamics in a way you can relate to, understand, and apply. You'll grasp how these pinciples explain real life events in the workplace – often dysfunctions – and to correct them to prevent injuries.

Dr. E. Scott Geller


A MAN FINDS HIMSELF on the top step of a step ladder; a woman removes the guard to her machine; a worker is not wearing her safety glasses in the plant; a roustabout uses the wrong sized clamp instead of retrieving the right tool from the supply truck; a supervisor teaches a new worker to take short cuts; a mechanic climbs on top of the active machine to find the oil leak.  Why do these folks do these things?  Is it because they are stupid?

Our tendency is to blame workers and label their personal failings as the cause of safety errors. Labeling does not solve problems that cause error.  It is an illusion of human perception leading us to false conclusions resulting in dysfunctional practices that hurt the safety of our workers and the effectiveness of the systems we put in place to protect them.  Learn a better way to analyze the behaviors of your employees to understand how they were put in a position to take the risk in the first place

Dysfunctional Practices is one of the most novel and insightful safety books you'll ever pick up. This is not a textbook. It's down to earth, funny, sardonic, at times hear-warming; full of stories and characters, deadly serious and also a bit irreverent, and easy to read.

Dave Johnson - Editor ISHN

We are witnessing the next generation of thinking on behavioral safety in Dysfunctional Practices. You will learn how programs based on behavioral science succeed while others flounder and fail.  Read it and read it again.

Dr. Aubrey Daniels

The Dysfunctions book you are about to read reflects Tim Ludwig's dynamic speaking style where he weaves provocative zingers with humorous stories and then adds a dash of science. Any company seeking to instill the values required to build their safety culture should consider sharing this book with all involved.

Dr. Terry McSween

In Dysfunctional Practices Tim Ludwig applies decades of teaching and practical experience to the challenges of creating safe workplaces. Ludwig instructs us in a powerful lessons how a systematic focus on behavior can help us create a safer world.

Dr. Dwight Harshbarger

...One of the workers, a redhead woman, was sitting at the other end of the table. I remember her vividly; she was stewing and shifting in her seat until she bravely blurted out,


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Dr. Timothy Ludwig

...Probably a dozen people did an investigation to complete this important form, taking hours, if not days, of everybody's time.

“So, what was the root cause?” My host, palms out, replied matter-of-factly, “Human error.” Translation: “He was stupid.”

Then what happened? Nothing happened. The work went on only to have that risk repeated again and again...by how many people?

...Labels give you the illusion that you've reached a root cause when all you've done is exonerate your responsibility to find a real solution.

...The illusion makes you think you are doing something productive to promote safety. In fact you're actually unintentionally promoting injuries; and diminishing your managerial skills in the process. And… you become a grumpus. It happens and you probably are not even aware of it.  

...Think about our manager Darryl who tends to issue labels when things are not going well and people are frustrated. What do the workers do when Darryl comes around? They try to avoid him. Do you think his employees come up to him and offer some needed suggestions of how to improve safety on the floor? No way. They may even have a secret whistle that goes out whenever he starts to walk the floor and everyone seems to disappear . Um…Do YOU hear a faint whistle when you walk out on your plant's floor?

...Approach any incident with a clear understanding of the cause and effect relationships between the behaviors related to the risk, and the reasons why that person, either knowingly (on purpose) or unknowingly found themselves in a position to take that risk.

A Behavior Hack (B-Hack) is a creatively improvised solution employees have adopted to manage their own environment so they achieve their safety outcomes more predictively every time.

I just read Tim Ludwig's delightful new book, it slots in perfectly with the movement from virtual safety to real safety. Safe workplace environments are created by people not processes and he deals with this truism expertly. His inimitable humour oozes out everywhere. Tim gets the balance right between a deadly serious subject and how best to deliver messages that land effectively. I strongly recommend this book if you are looking for the next shaping step on workplace safety. As he says ''its time to make safety a verb''.

Howard Lees

Alternate cover available

The book Dysfunctional Practices can be likened to another great "musical hit track" of our generation. I recall listening to the track "We are the World" in the eighties marked as "USA for Africa" which show cased great American artists and legends.  Today I read a book from one of Americas best in the field of behavioural safety. I consider  Dr.Tim Ludwig's new book as another gift from "America to the rest of the world". It is in my own opinion the "hidden secret" and the "missing ingredient" to boosting behaviour based safety and promoting positive safety culture among high risk industries across the world especially those operating in Nigeria's Niger Delta.

Dr. Patricks-E Chinemerem