1st Edition

Operational Decision-making in High-hazard Organizations Drawing a Line in the Sand

By Jan Hayes Copyright 2013
    192 Pages
    by CRC Press

    190 Pages
    by CRC Press

    This book takes a fresh look at safety decision-making by documenting and examining stories told by front-line managers in three different high-hazard industries: a chemical plant, a nuclear power station and an air-navigation service provider. From Piper Alpha to Deepwater Horizon, accident analysis has stressed the importance of excellent decision-making by those in charge out in the field. Organizations rely critically on the judgement and experience of such senior operations personnel and yet these qualities are undervalued in a business environment that emphasises documentation and measurement. Whilst operational managers are guided by rules, they also draw on their own long experience and can formulate a situation-specific ’line in the sand’ to apply the experience of the operating team to complex, real-world situations that rule writers may not have foreseen. This volume refocuses our attention on the people who make these important decisions and the organizational processes that support the best choices. Jan Hayes uses her multi-disciplinary experience to draw together an account of safety decision-making that is both technically robust and yet accessible to academics, practitioners and regulators alike. Readers will see that the stories retold in this book provide a way for operational managers to share their knowledge, experience and expertise - with each other and with us.

    Contents: Foreword; Preface; Introduction; Theoretical perspectives on making safe decisions; Part A Decision-Making in Three High Reliability Organizations: At the nuclear power station - ’We put a line in the sand’; At the chemical plant - ’If it’s not safe, we don’t do it’; Air traffic control - ’When you kick a ball, you don’t know where it’s going to land’. Part B Acting Both as Employees and as Professionals: Decision-making and identity; Rules and compliance; Professionals at work; Professional relationships; Decisions, risks and barriers; Creating environments for better decision-making; References; Index.


    Jan Hayes has 25 years’ experience in safety and risk management. She holds a Senior Research Fellow appointment at the Australian National University where she is Program Leader for the social science research activities of the Energy Pipelines Co-operative Research Centre. Dr Hayes is a member of the Advisory Board of the Australian National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority.

    This book is an enormously valuable addition to the literature on high reliability organizations. Andrew Hopkins, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Australian National University, Canberra ’Overall this is a tightly written and well-argued book, which clearly shows that, despite little understanding or acknowledgement, organisations rely critically on the experience and judgement of professionals to keep workers and general public safe.’ The RoSPA Occupational Safety & Health Journal, September 2013