Sidney was born near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He studied psychology at the University of Nijmegen, now known as Radboud University, where he was ranked among its famous alumni. After completing his Masters’ Degree in Organizational Psychology from Nijmegen, he pursued a Masters’ in Experimental Psychology at Leiden University, also in the Netherlands. Four years later, he earned his PhD in Cognitive Systems Engineering from The Ohio State University in the USA, where he worked with his advisors Prof. David Woods and Dr. Charles Billings.

Since his PhD, Sidney has gained worldwide acclaim for his groundbreaking work on human error and safety. He was previously at Lund University in Sweden as Professor where he founded the Leonardo da Vinci Laboratory for Complexity and Systems Thinking, as well as an MSc in Human Factors and System Safety. He has also been a Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Honorary Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He has also been visiting Professor of Community Health Science at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, in Canada.





After becoming full professor in Sweden, he learned to fly the Boeing 737NG. He became active as part-time airline pilot with Sterling Airlines, later Cimber Sterling, based at Copenhagen Airport, Denmark, just across from Lund in Sweden.

By now, Sidney has lived and worked in seven countries and tries to keep current in five languages, his gliding and his piano playing. He has done the latter since he was five years old. Sidney is currently Professor at Griffith University in Australia, where he has founded the Safety Science Innovation Lab, and Honorary Professor at the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland as well as Honorary Professor of Human Factors and Patient Safety at Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. He lives in Brisbane with his wife—his childhood sweetheart from the Netherlands—now a biomedical scientist. They have three children together.



Safety Differently initiatives by Sidney’s (former) students


Several of Sidney’s (former) students promote conversations about Safety Differently in their own ways and worlds:

Daniel Hummerdal has co-founded The Art of Work to help organizations do Safety Differently

Ron Gantt runs

Johan Bergstrom blogs on

Rob Robson runs Healthcare System Safety and Accountability in Canada

Hans Houtman, now unfortunately deceased, founded JustCulture in the Netherlands. He also co-founded, with Sidney, the Second Victim Foundation

Brad Mayhew runs Fireline Factors in the US

Shawn Pruchnicki is part of Human Factors Investigation and Education LLC