System Safety Working Group

Working to accelerate the maturity of practice of System Safety Engineering

Working Group Purpose & Mission


The purpose of the INCOSE System Safety Working Group (SSWG) is to accelerate the maturity of the practice of system safety engineering as part of the wider systems engineering practice.

Safety is an emergent property of a system, dependent on how a system behaves when used, and sustained, in a specific way in a specific environment. Safety management, therefore, should be an integral part of the systems engineering process.

Unfortunately, this is not, universally, the case. Specifically,
• In some highly regulated environments (such as rail, aerospace or medical devices) the safety management process can be an additional layer of process on top of the systems engineering process. This can increase time to market, increase costs and potentially reduce the overall safety of deployed systems.
• In some organizations and sectors, safety management practice lags behind systems engineering practice. The level of effectiveness of safety management practice varies across different sectors and countries.
• Different organizations at different positions in the supply chain can have different perspectives on safety management that can have significant impact on safety, cost and effectiveness.

Increased complexity, driven by increased use of software and automation, systems-of-systems, internet of things, closed loop control and ‘inexpert operators’ is making the safety management challenge harder. In some cases, unsafe systems may be being deployed; in others the inability to demonstrate that systems are safe are limiting the deployment of new types of system

Analytic Enablers

TechOps Domain






Duncan Kemp

Meaghan O'Neil


Seeking new co-chair


This WG will address activities relating to best practices for systems safety engineering throughout the systems lifecycle. Including:
  • A whole range of system types - including products, services, capabilities and systems of systems
  • Practice across multiple sectors
  • Perspectives from a range of different players in the supply chain


To Understand:

  • The state of the art and state of the practice in system safety management in different sectors and geographies
  • The implications of the changing nature of systems from a safety perspective
  • The overall relationship and coupling between different players in the supply chain, including regulators, asset owner operators and product/service suppliers

To identify ways to make the practice more effective, efficient and timely

To build a network across the practice of system safety


  • To improve the state of the practice of system safety engineering
  • To develop and maintain a community for system safety engineers

IW23: International Workshop Focus

The working group meetings at the IW are intended to establish the programme of work for the upcoming year

We will work to agree on a draft plan for the upcoming year and confirm interest among working group memebrs.

A meeting maximised for in person attendance will be held on Saturday, 28th January from 13:00-16:00 PST

A meeting maximised for remote attendance will be held on Sunday, 29th January from 8:00-9:30 PST

In addition to the System Safety Working Group meetings, individuals interested in System Safety may be interested in:

  • Applying Complexity Heuristics to the UK Royal Academy of Engineering Safety Use Cases scheduled for Sunday, 29th January from 16:00-17:30 PST 

For more details on the IW schedule, please visit the IW2023 event website

Planned Activities

  • Continue to progress the perspectives on system safety work
  • Progress system safety primer
  • Work on series of presentations to engage wider group
  • Continue to support updates to INCOSE handbook
  • Continue collaboration with Loss Driven SE Initiative
  • Continue engagement with UK Royal Academy of Engineering on System Safety for Complex Systems
  • Continue engagement with Safety Critical Systems Club and STAMP initiatives

Planned Work Products

  • Perspective on System Safety Paper
  • System Safety Primer
  • Updated System Safety INCOSE Handbook section


Yammer is INCOSE's social media platform for members. Use your INCOSE-issued Microsoft credential to login and join the conversation. INCOSE credentials are in the form of [email protected] or [email protected].   

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