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Ships in the night and the quest for safety

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Injury prevention, by its nature, is a highly multidisciplinary field and so is of direct or indirect interest to an exceptionally wide professional as well as lay audience. Although a safer society likely constitutes a common vision for most of those concerned with injury prevention, the concept of safety, when scrutinised, can be seen to be perceived and effected in different ways by different professional groups. In extreme cases, divergent approaches may continue to co-exist by becoming cocooned in worlds of their own, setting their own injury prevention priorities without much heed for what happens elsewhere. This diversity, because it is often only tacitly acknowledged if at all, can give rise to misunderstanding and even conflict between those with otherwise shared goals, and may also account for much of the public controversy frequently associated with safety issues. A further consequence of the existence of discrete and contrasting notions of safety is the introduction of an element of randomness into the overall societal process of achieving safety, which may dilute and, in some cases, even subvert the primary intention. This arises because of the unpredictability of the outcome where competing concepts are engaged. It is argued here that inter-professional discord is an impediment to the pursuance of safety, and that greater communication between professional disciplines and agencies organised along professional lines, and between professionals and the wider public, about the fundamental choices involved in injury prevention would enable safety to be pursued in a more effective manner, and that this should be in everyone's interest.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-06-01

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