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Human- and work-centred safety: keys to a new conception of management

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By introducing Kuhn's historical concept of the paradigm, an attempt is made to define the present state of knowledge in the field of safety. In other words, what is called the safety paradigm is the group of safety-related concepts, theories, methods and empirical ideas now dominant. Today this paradigm has proved its coherence and efficiency; but it also has limitations, particularly as regards industrial accidents and the functioning of high-risk systems. That is, the difficulty of integrating fundamental aspects of human factors, such as the organizational factors and phenomena, and the subjective contribution of workers, of operators, to daily safety. New concepts and methods that would be relevant for research workers, analysts and managers alike are introduced in an approach centred on the field personnel's subjective description of their work. Co-operation, communication and elaboration are the key positive variables here, whereas production pressure, organizational pressures, communication failures and distortions are some key negative variables. Integrating all these aspects should lead to an indepth reconstruction of the paradigm. Could this be a new paradigm?
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1997

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