Understanding procedural violations using Safety-I and Safety-II: the case of community pharmacies

Christian Jones (Lead), Denham Phipps, Darren Ashcroft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Procedural violations are known to occur in a range of work settings, and are an important topic of interest with regard to safety management. A Safety-I perspective sees violations as undesirable digressions from standardised procedures, while a Safety-II perspective sees violations as adaptations to a complex work system. This study aimed to apply both perspectives to the examination of violations in community pharmacies.

Twenty four participants (13 pharmacists and 11 pharmacy support staff) were purposively sampled to participate in semi-structured interviews using the critical incident technique. Participants described violations they made during the course of their work. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using template analysis.

Community pharmacies located in England and Wales.

31 procedural violations were described during the interviews revealing multiple reasons for violations in this setting. Our findings suggest that from a Safety-II perspective, staff made violations to adapt to situations and to manage patient safety in community pharmacies. However, we found that participants also violated procedures in order to maintain productivity which was found to increase risk in some, but not all situations. Procedural violations often relied on the context in which staff were working, resulting in the violation being deemed rational to the individual making the violation, yet the behaviour may be difficult to justify from an outside perspective.

Combining Safety-I and Safety-II perspectives provided a detailed understanding of the underlying reasons for procedural violations. Our findings identify aspects of practice that could benefit from targeted interventions to help support staff in providing safe patient care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-120
JournalSafety Science
Early online date22 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Community pharmacy
  • Violations
  • Resilience
  • Human factors


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