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The communicative construction of safety in wildland firefighting


Jahn, Jody. 2012. The communicative construction of safety in wildland firefighting. In: Fox, R. L., ed. Proceedings of the 3rd Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference; April 17-19 2012; Seattle, Washington. International Association of Wildland Fire. p. 44-63.

This dissertation project used a two-study mixed methods approach, examining the communicative accomplishment of safety from two perspectives: high reliability organizing (Weick, Sutcliffe, & Obstfeld 1999), and safety climate (Zohar 1980). In Study One, 27 firefighters from two functionally similar wildland firefighting crews were interviewed about their crew-level interactions for implementing safety rules and tasks. Findings revealed that the two crews differed in their communicative interactions related to three specific routines: planning, use of safety rules, and authority. The crews also differed in their general interactions with one another related to safety, groupness, and efficiency. For Study Two, 379 firefighters participated in a safety climate survey. Safety climate refers to an organization's emphasis of production pressure over safety (Zohar & Luria 2005). Safety climate constructs assessed included: safety communication, failure learning behaviors, work safety tension, psychological safety, crew staffing patterns (dispersed, co-located), work styles (independent, task interdependent), crew prestige, and the value of after action reviews (AARs). Hypotheses tested and modeled how crew configurations and work styles combined to influence learning behaviors, member comfort with communicating safety concerns, and the value of communication and learning practices. Based on both studies, recommendations are presented for enhancing the crew-level safety communication environment.

Keywords: safety climate, high reliability organization, HRO, safety, communication


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: The communicative construction of safety in wildland firefighting
Electronic Publish Date: September 17, 2013
Last Update:
September 17, 2013

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