Safety Science Research is a collection of studies drawing on the work of more than 25 authors. These include contributions from professors, doctors and lecturers who specialise in fields such as sociology, organisational behaviour, psychology and risk management. The material is broad and covers safety at work as well as industry sectors that include transport and engineering.
Jean-Christophe Le Coze, a safety scientist at INERIS, the French national institute for industrial environment and risks, explains in the introduction that the book’s title was inspired by his experience of meeting up with researchers at various safety conferences and workshops. This led him to create his own forum so that researchers could meet to share and debate ideas. The fruits of these extensive discussions are shared in this book, which is what makes the content so illuminating.
Each research topic (21 in total) is well presented and given its own chapter. After an introduction, each topic is broken down into sub-categories. This approach helps the reader to quickly find the research that is of most interest to them.
Most of the content is original research, which covers the latest in safety thinking. It also includes historical studies and covers significant accidents and disasters - with emphasis on safety, not health.
The first part of the book focuses on safety research in the 1980s and 1990s, which Le Coze characterises as a ‘golden age’.
He then argues why it is important to build research that is more relevant to the modern workplace and modern attitudes towards safety.
In the chapter on ‘Coping with globalisation: robust regulation and safety in high-risk industries’, for example, he explores the argument that globalisation has reconfigured the landscape and operating constraints of high-risk systems.
The second part, Safety Research 2020 visions, is based on reflections by some of the pioneers in safety research from the 1980s onwards. In this section, he considers the ‘positive safety’ concept. Positive safety applies the logic of trying to understand effective and safe task execution, the opposing view of using failure (accidents) to measure safety.
The in-depth analysis provided by a rich multidisciplinary group of contributors introduces new concepts that extend beyond the typical safety book. Although I suspect this book to be of most interest to academics, I believe that engineers and organisational decision makers will find enough in here to justify the purchase