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What Works Centre for Safety

What works: safety evidence centre

Exploring the potential impact of a centre for safety evidence

What we looked at 

Fundamental to Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s charitable mission is the belief that decisions that impact on the safety of life and property should be informed by the best available evidence.  Work in other sectors has demonstrated that a ‘what works’ approach can have a positive impact on decision making. We have been developing ideas and exploring how these principles might be applied to safety.   

‘What works’ can be used to improve the impact that research findings have on outcomes. The approach is based on the principle that good decision making is underpinned by good evidence, and if that evidence isn’t available, robust ways of generating it should be established. It acknowledges that research evidence on its own isn’t enough; you need to know how and why something works in practice and how to implement that knowledge to maximise impact. 

Why is this important? 

The Foundation envisages that a safety evidence centre would become the global focal point for evidence-based thinking and decision making for safety. The centre would put users, practitioners and wider stakeholders at the heart of what it does, to understand key safety challenges and priorities, understand how decisions are made and what information would help make better decisions. Gaps in evidence would be mapped and filled through evidence generation and collation of what is already known. This evidence base would then be translated into practical toolkits and guidelines that can improve safety. The Foundation’s vision is for a centre that develops into a well-respected and world-renowned organisation that is the global reference point for evidence on safety. 

What did we do? 

We commissioned RAND Europe to conduct a feasibility study to: 

  • explore in detail, through literature reviews, interviews and workshops, how a centre might achieve and evaluate impact; 
  • conduct two scoping studies – deep dives into safety in small and medium size enterprises, and (building on recent Foundation work) psychological wellbeing in seafarers – to establish tangible examples of how this approach could create impact and support improvements in safety. 

The team involved over 80 stakeholders in the study, using their own and Lloyd’s Register Foundation networks to convene workshops and conduct interviews.  The study has been published to contribute to the debate on how these approaches can inform policy and practice, and is available on the RAND Europe website.   

What have we learnt? 

The feasibility study suggests that achieving impact from a safety evidence centre would be feasible, but that active stakeholder engagement would be vital to ensure success. To optimise that impact given the breadth of potential in safety, the report highlights that existing evidence centres make decisions around various dimensions: the centre’s areas of focus, its target of change, its functions, stakeholder engagement, and geographies. RAND found many evidence centres working globally in diverse sectors, who use theories of change to show how their activities impact outcomes. Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for the centre would be key to demonstrating any impact.  

What are we going to do next? 

The Foundation will use the findings of the feasibility study to inform and support the plans and next steps towards establishing a safety evidence centre with a global remit.  


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