Assistant Professor

Leif Ole Dreyer

Field of work

Ole Dreyer is an Assistant Professor at the department of mechanical engineering and maritime studies at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.

While many current safety managers predominantly consider humans as a safety liability, Ole believes that the opposite is true: human skill and adaptability bridge the gaps in technology, processes, and information in modern work systems. Expert practitioners are therefore essential for maintaining safety in a complex and changing world and should be appreciated as a resource necessary for system flexibility.

Ole notes that the desire of safety management to centrally control how work is done in their operations has led to many safety management systems ending up as vast documents that are difficult to use and navigate. We have ended up with a situation where the excessive use of rules and guidelines has actually led to decreases – not increases – in safety levels. It is therefore Ole’s view that instead of simply pressuring front-line operations to conform with stale plans, safety managers must work on providing support and facilitation to constructively guide the necessary adaptations that are a part of everyday working life. Such a change will not be easy and will require moving away from a safety management practice that simply tells front-line workers what to do, towards one where safety managers genuinely participate and collaborate with the front-line to identify and support the capacities that are supporting safe adaptations.

Prior to becoming an Assistant Professor, Ole was a PhD student studying safety management for autonomous vessels. In the beginning of his career, Ole worked as a deck officer on board LPG tankers in international trades for almost five years. He was issued a Master Unlimited Ocean license in 2018.

Ole is passionate about various outdoor activities, including sailing, kiting, motorcycling, skiing, and diving.

Ole has a shared digital office with his colleague Torkel Bjarte Larsson. You can visit it here:

Courses taught
  • NAB3030 Bachelor Project
  • NAB3040 Maritime Health, Safety and Environment
  • MMO5002 Safety and Human Factors
  • MMO5011 Ship Operation and Maintenance Management
  • MMO5017 Master thesis
  • Basic Training for Liquefied Gas Tanker Cargo Operations
  • Advanced Training for Liquefied Gas Tanker Cargo Operations
Research areas
  • Maritime Autonomy – Investigation of Suitable Safety Management Measures
Research groups


  • Safety of Autonomous Navigation: A Study on Safety Challenges for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships, Safe Speed, and Work as Done by Navigators

    Dreyer, Leif Ole, Oltedal, Helle Asgjerd, Porathe, Thomas (2023)
  • Human Error: Origins, Current Practices, And Future Possibilities

    Dreyer, Leif Ole (2023)
  • Mission Possible: Rethinking Human Error in Maritime Leadership

    Dreyer, Leif Ole (2023)
  • Safe Vessel Operations – The Tacit Knowledge of Navigators

    Dreyer, Leif Ole (2023)
  • Safe Vessel Operations – The Tacit Knowledge of Navigators

    Dreyer, Leif Ole (2023)
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