Cultivating Safety Culture: How HOP & Technology Drive Proactive Ergonomics

Blog by: Will Thomas, Lead Ergonomist & Program Manager

In my previous article, Give your HOP framework a Boost! we explored the Human and Organizational Performance (HOP) framework and the application of emergent technology to support and operationalize HOP principles, check out the article here if you are interested in learning more background and check out this HOP presentation by the National Safety Council for additional insight. 

Why is HOP growing in popularity? 

HOP is a management framework that takes a systems-perspective to understanding and responding to errors, accidents, and injuries within the workplace. HOP offers a comprehensive framework for safety management because it considers both the individual and the organizational system, and focuses on how the interactions and interplay within your work system create the conditions that lead to errors, accidents, and injuries. By understanding these root conditions, organizations can more effectively identify system changes and risk controls which proactively mitigate the potential for errors and injuries to occur. Traditionally, much of EHS management has focused on behavior-based safety and compliance enforcement; but this traditional framework focuses more on managing the consequences of error and injury, rather than understanding and addressing root causes to prevent these errors and injuries within the work system. These challenges have led to a shift in safety philosophy that prioritizes prevention over reaction, and the adoption of frameworks which operate to understand the conditions that lead to decisions being made is a more effective strategy for driving proactive risk management. 

While many of the ideas from HOP have existed and been championed by other management philosophies, part of the appeal and effectiveness of HOP is in its simplicity and approachability. These characteristics make it a useful language and communication tool for engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders, allowing for important ideas about safety philosophy to be shared. HOP principles can be clearly communicated and understood regardless of background, and adopting the HOP framework is valuable for gaining buy-in of more complex ideas (ex. systems thinking). These factors may be significant contributing factors to the growth in popularity of HOP in recent years, and may lend well towards further growth in the future, especially as organizations look for modern ways to improve their safety cultures and address systemic challenges. 

How does HOP impact Safety Culture? 

Safety culture is a common topic of discussion within all work organizations, with leaders discussing how they can adopt different frameworks and philosophies to help foster better safety culture and drive better outcomes for frontline teams. HOP has a significant impact on safety culture within an organization and can lead to its improvement in several ways:

Overall, HOP has a transformative impact on safety culture by promoting a proactive, learning-focused approach to safety management, fostering collaboration and engagement among employees, empowering frontline workers, and demonstrating leadership commitment to safety excellence. By integrating HOP principles into their operations, organizations can create a culture where safety is valued, prioritized, and continuously improved upon to protect the well-being of all employees. Check out these additional resources to learn more about HOP and its powerful impact. 


How does HOP relate to my Ergonomic Risk Management Process? 

Understanding the systemic impacts of making ergonomic improvements and implementing ergonomic risk controls is essential to mitigating conditions that lead to workers being injured. Without taking a systems-based perspective, the benefits of potential ergonomic risk controls may not be fully realized. Fundamentally, the HOP philosophy can support ergonomic risk management processes by reinforcing a systems-based risk management process. These processes work in collaboration to: 

  • Empower workers and encourage participatory models for ergonomic assessment & risk control
  • Shift focus from blame to learning to understand what conditions led to an injury, rather than blaming worker for getting hurt
  • Focus on understanding and mitigating conditions for all workers in the system versus a focus on individual behavior changes
  • Emphasize the need for more data collection to inform learning and understanding of current conditions that are driving decision making
  • Emphasize the importance of Human Factors in the design and modification of work processes
  • Adopt a long term view of continuous improvement and proactive mitigation

While ergonomic risk management processes primarily focus on identifying and mitigating ergonomic hazards, HOP provides a broader framework that encompasses ergonomic considerations along with other human and organizational factors to enhance safety, health, and performance within organizations.

How can the adoption of HOP principles and emergent technology improve Ergonomics Risk Management to help cultivate organizational safety culture? 

The collaboration of emergent technology with modern safety philosophies provides a framework for proactively managing ergonomic risks, while ensuring risk controls and process changes consider impacts to the broader work system. At LifeBooster, we enable automated, reliable, and accurate digitized risk assessments, and support our customers in adopting and implementing technology in a way that supports key HOP principles and enables effective risk management. This collaboration enables organizations to achieve the following: 

  • Individualized Risk Assessments and Representative Risk Samples – Scaling data collection to ensure that the assessments represent a diverse population of workers is essential to making effective risk management decisions. The move from individual or small sample sizes of assessments enables better risk prioritization decisions, which factor in the variability in risk exposure, while also enabling more reliable baselines to compare and validate the effectiveness of risk controls when implemented across a wide array of workers. 
  • Worker Empowerment & Participatory Ergonomics – Engaging workers to participate in data collection, analysis and interpretation of risk assessment data, and in brainstorming risk controls and process improvements is a key factor in both informing more effective risk management, and in cultivating better safety culture. Workers also feel better represented and that the decisions being made reflect the true ‘work as done’ vs perceptions of the work that they do everyday. 
  • Organizational Focus on Continuous Improvement & Risk Mitigation – Shifting focus away from blame and towards understanding is critical in learning how to improve the conditions that lead to injury. A risk management process that is iterative—continues to learn, adapt and improve the work system, will help dynamically manage risks to proactively eliminate the potential for worker injury. Ergonomic risk management is cyclical, not linear, and relies on safety programs and processes that support this systemic, continuous approach.  
  • Data-driven Decision Making – Rather than relying on limited datasets to inform important decision making, utilizing technology and safety philosophies that empower discovery and learning provide organizations with the right data to make more effective decisions. Complementing representative, quantitative data with better understanding of first hand worker experiences enables informed decision making that reflects the broader needs and limitations of the work system.

The adoption of HOP principles in conjunction with emergent technology, like LifeBooster Senz, can revolutionize ergonomics risk management and shift from reactive to proactive management and mitigation of risk. By leveraging these tools and approaches, organizations can cultivate a strong organizational safety culture rooted in continuous improvement where the well-being of employees is prioritized, and safety is integrated into every aspect of the workplace.


The HOP framework is an effective way of communicating key ideas and a guiding philosophy for how to proactively and systematically address and manage risk factors in the workplace. Ergonomic programs have been challenged to scale data collection, provide insight into prioritization, and inform and validate effective controls. The adoption of HOP principles and the evolution of ergonomics risk management processes through technology enables organizations to address these historic challenges, and pave a way forward towards more effective safety practices that help foster a strong organizational safety culture. 

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