Framing risks in a safety-critical and hazardous job: Risk-taking as responsibility in railway maintenance
2008 (English)In: Journal of Risk Research, ISSN 1366-9877, Vol. 11, no 5, 645-658 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In risk management research, risk-taking is mostly treated as deviation that calls for improved risk communication. I argue, however, that risk-taking should be seen as expressing a rationale of its own, thus, improving safety requires that this rationale be adequately understood and that the conditions that reproduce risk-taking be changed. This argument is supported by an ethnography of railway maintenance in Sweden. Railway technicians are charged with maintaining the railway infrastructure to support safe and punctual trains, an assignment that exposes them to occupational hazards. The technicians' claim of occupational responsibility for transportation safety risks is framed by two notions in occupational discourse: first, the safety-critical nature of their tasks, and second, the notion of service to the general public. Technician interdependence in achieving occupational safety requires mutual responsibility in the team. Technicians justify occupational risk-taking, claiming it is sometimes needed to achieve production goals given the available time and resources and the manageability of the risks taken. Finally, I stress the need for technicians to change their frames of reference and for employers to assume responsibility for reducing the need for risk-taking. © 2008 Taylor & Francis.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 11, no 5, 645-658 p.
framing risks, occupational responsibility, risk-taking, railway maintenance
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-43148DOI: 10.1080/13669870701715550Local ID: 72083OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-43148DiVA: diva2:264006