Safety culture and perceptions and practice with nanomaterials in academia and industry

Konferenceabstrakt til konference - 2018


Work and research with manufactured nanomaterials (MN) has primarily focused on innovation, toxicity, governance and safety management tools, and some studies have looked at how the public perceives the benefits and risks of MN. The objective of this presentation is to provide preliminary results of a study of OSH professionals’ in academia and industry and their perceptions and actions in attaining and applying knowledge about MN in relation to a safety culture model. Interviews were carried out with OSH professionals at five academic institutions and five industrial companies. Relevant interview statements were coded into five topics regarding MN: risk comprehension, information gathering, actions, communication and compliance. The statements were then coded according to a five-step safety culture ladder model reflecting increasing safety maturity from: passive, reactive, active, and proactive to generative.
Approximately 230 relevant interview statements were coded. None of the statements lived up to the highest level of a ‘generative’ safety culture, whereas the majority reflected an ‘active’ safety culture. There were a number of similarities and differences in the statements between and within academic institutions and industry in their safety culture maturity, particularly in regards to accepting NM risks as part of the job. The differences are also reflected in structural differences between the two types of institutions, e.g. size, organizational structure, turnover, and cultural and linguistic diversity, which provide challenges in affecting and sustaining cultural change in safety.
Implications: The study reinforces the need for politicians and engineers to collaborate with communication experts and social scientists in effectively framing NM information that allows for flexible deployment of multilevel and integrated safety culture initiatives to support operational excellence. Future studies should include places where nanotechnology is having a growing influence e.g. scientific and technical teaching institutions, manufacturing, construction, cosmetics, etc., and initiatives could also look at strengthening safety education of NM risks (and chemical risk understanding in general) starting in public and trade schools.

Acknowledgement: The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement No.686239 ‘caLIBRAte’.


Safety culture and perceptions and practice with nanomaterials in academia and industry. 2018.

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caLIBRAte - test, kalibrering og implementering af et nyt model-baseret system til risikostyring under innovation og produktion af tekniske nanomaterialer