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Corporate managers' perceptions of safety and its value: an interview study of five internationally operating Finnish companies

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalPolicy and Practice in Health and Safety
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

A manager’s active role is generally considered to be essential for successfully managing and improving safety. For example, managers are in the position to make safety-related decisions. To be able to make decisions, managers need to have a sufficient understanding of safety-related issues, such as the economic aspects of safety, the significance of which has recently increased. In order to support managers’ safety-related responsibilities, it is important to understand their perceptions of safety. This paper discusses how corporate managers value safety and perceive the role of the economic aspects and evaluations of safety. Moreover, corporate managers’ views on safety are discussed in relation to different economic situations. Twenty-three management representatives from five large-scale industrial Finnish companies were interviewed. The interviewed managers saw safety as an essential part of company operations and they mentioned many ways that business and economic factors affected safety. Nevertheless, they approached safety strongly from the traditional viewpoint of the reactive measurement of accidents and costs and as an ethical principle instead of seeing safety as part of doing business. One can question whether safety is included sufficiently in decision making if it is only approached as a value in itself and whether the situation would be different if managers had more and better tools to model the economic aspects of safety. Economic evaluations could be useful particularly in times of austerity when resources are scarce. At the same time, the benefits and limitations of the tools for modelling economic aspects of safety need to be considered.

Keywords

  • economic evaluation, top management, managers, OH&S, safety management, value of safety

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland