Computing and Library Services - delivering an inspiring information environment

Developments in the Safety Science Domain and in Safety Management From the 1970s Till the 1979 Near Disaster at Three Mile Island

Swuste, Paul, Van Gulijk, Coen, Oostendorp, Yvette, Zwaard, Walter and Groeneweg, Jop (2015) Developments in the Safety Science Domain and in Safety Management From the 1970s Till the 1979 Near Disaster at Three Mile Island. In: Working on Safety 2015, 23rd - 25th September 2015, Porto, Portugal.

PDF - Accepted Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


Objective: What has been the influence of general management schools and safety research into causes of accidents and disasters on managing safety from 1970 till 1979?
Method: The study was limited to original articles and documents, written in English or Dutch from the period under concern. For the Netherlands, the professional journal De Veiligheid (Safety) has been consulted.
Results and conclusions: Dominant management approaches started with 1) the classical management starting from the 19th century, with scientific management from the start of the 20st century as a main component. During the interwar period 2) behavioural management started, based on behaviourism, followed by 3) quantitative management from the Second World War onwards. After the war 4) modern management became important. A company was seen as an open system, interacting with an external environment with external stakeholders. These schools management were not exclusive, but have existed in the period together.
Early 20th century, the U.S. 'Safety First' movement was the starting point of this knowledge development on managing safety, with cost reduction and production efficiency as key drivers. Psychological models and metaphors explained accidents from ‘unsafe acts’. And safety was managed with training and selection of reckless workers, all in line with scientific management. Supported by behavioural management, this approach remained dominant for many years, even long after World War II.
Influenced by quantitative management, potential and actual disasters after the war led to two approaches; loss prevention (up-scaling process industry) and reliability engineering (inherently dangerous processes in the aerospace and nuclear industries). The distinction between process safety and occupational safety became clear after the war, and the two developed into relatively independent domains.
In occupational safety in the 1970s human errors thought to be symptoms of mismanagement. The term ‘safety management’ was introduced in scientific safety literature as well as concepts as loose, and tightly coupled processes, organizational culture, incubation of a disaster and mechanisms blinding organizations for portents of disaster scenarios. Loss prevention remained technically oriented. Till 1979 there was no clear relation with safety management. Reliability engineering, based on systems theory did have that relation with the MORT technique as a management audit. The Netherlands mainly followed Anglo-Saxon developments. Late 1970s, following international safety symposia in The Hague and Delft, independent research started in The Netherlands

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Schools: School of Computing and Engineering > Institute of Railway Research
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Coen Van Gulijk
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2016 11:18
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2016 19:30


Downloads per month over past year

Repository Staff Only: item control page

View Item View Item

University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield, HD1 3DH Copyright and Disclaimer All rights reserved ©