Despite the introduction of the Universal Protocol, patient safety in surgery remains a daily challenge in the operating room. This present study describes one community health system's efforts to improve operating room safety through human factors training and ultimately the development of a surgical checklist. Using a combination of formal training, local studies documenting operating room safety issues and peer to peer mentoring we were able to substantially change the culture of our operating room. Our efforts have prepared us for successfully implementing a standardized checklist to improve operating room safety throughout our entire system. Based on these findings we recommend a multimodal approach to improving operating room safety.