Risk is constructed differently within different communities of practice in the railway system. However, the different communities such as train drivers, train traffic controllers and infrastructure maintenance workers must communicate and cooperate in order to achieve safe traffic. The paper focuses on how risks, situated knowledge, social class and professional identities are co-produced during interaction, as well as shaping interaction, within and between different communities of practice in the railway system. In interaction, trust and mutual understanding, or mistrust and misunderstanding, is displayed and acknowledged.
Risk objects are those phenomena that the participants of the different communities of practice learn to connect causally to specific risks. Risk objects and their associated risks are in turn connected to specific risk handling techniques, together constituting common repertoires of safe working practices.
Four different kinds of problems will be highlighted in the paper.
1. Risks are constructed differently: some are seen as manageable within the range of existing repertoires of safe working practices, others are seen as acceptable pending production pressures, still other are purposely produced as part of the reproduction of specific masculine identities.
2. Different communities learn to identify risk objects that are linked to risks and accidents. Differences in knowledge about and engagement in the practices that other communities are dealing with may undermine the conditions for successful risk handling.
3. The repertoires of risk objects and risk handling techniques that workers learn are sometimes difficult to reconcile with risk management schedules, regulations and the official priorities for maintenance work, causing mistrust and disrespect for management.
4. A successful risk handling can be hampered by the partition of the market for maintenance work: the diffusion of experiences between different companies is delimited due to trade secrets and fear of loosing contracts if incidents are revealed.
2002. 115-115 p.