Safety Culture in Danish Railways

For Danish Railways (DSB) safety is about trying to avoid or minimise the next train accident, which statistically will happen in the future. And it is about keeping in mind that in spite of sophisticated systems and better surveillance, it is important to constantly work on the human factor in safety: Safety culture.

DSB chose to use unconventional means to encourage employees to get involved in the development of the company's safety culture. DSB contacted Workz for help to build a dialogue tool on safety.

"As our safety systems improve, it is the human factor that increasingly cause accidents. So we have to persistently work on influencing the culture that is behind the safety systems. In the end, it may well be the common sense of employees that can prevent a fatal accident" says head of safety in DSB, Carsten Sønderbo Jacobsen.


Is it at all possible to have train drivers and men in safety vests, who normally handle heavy trains, to literally sit down and put the cards on the table? To have them talk about what they think about safety, trust, pressure from customers and breaches of safety in their daily work?

"Yes, because when we let game mechanisms steer a dialogue, and when we use a process tool to simplify very complex matters, something very special happens to the dialogue. The game mechanism forces participants to take a stand on the issues. And when you get the issues a bit away from yourself while you talk across a game board, it is much easier to talk about the things that can be difficult to talk about in your daily work," explains senior consultant and game designer in Workz, Svend Ask Larsen.

The tool used in DSB is a redesigned version of a game on values and safety, which has been used previously with Dong Energy (power plants) and Ecco Group (shoe manufacturer). But for DSB it was important that we call it a tool and not a game - because safety is not to be played with.

Using cards to put words to what happens when safety is endangered really moves people


The process was designed so that local leaders themselves could facilitate a theme day on safety locally in their teams. This allowed managers to take ownership of the process, and it enabled them to facilitate a constructive dialogue on safety with their teams. The process was supported by an introductory film, in which DSB's area managers present current facts on safety in DSB's operations.

"Using cards to put words to what happens when safety is endangered really moves people. It is all about having the people who are in the front line regarding safety to take on a greater personal responsibility for their own safety as well as the safety of their colleagues and our passengers", says the head of safety in DSB.