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Shifting the safety rules paradigm: introducing doctrine to US wildland firefighting operations

Author(s): Jody L. Jahn
Year Published: 2019

Safety rules have long been associated with a rationalist or compliance/violation logic, meaning that workers must comply with rules, and can expect disciplinary action if they violate them. In recent years, scholars have begun to introduce an adaptation safety paradigm, proposing that rules should be used as 'tools' for flexible action. This text analysis examines organizational policy, safety, and training documents associated with US wildland firefighter Doctrine, a policy that aligns with an adaptation safety paradigm because it formally allows firefighters to bend and disregard safety rules according to their judgment. The study tracks how Doctrine-related documents redefined how safety rules and other documents were used on scene and within accountability processes. The analysis also proposes a new technical documentation cycle associated with an adaptation paradigm, which illustrates how documents are linked with each other in policy texts, training manuals, and accident investigation processes and reports. Recommendations for safety scholars and managers include articulating how an adaptation paradigm for safety rules might address concerns related to: (1) how rules are incorporated into 'normal' safety practice, (2) when rules enter/inform decision processes, and (3) and how organizations investigate accidents and determine accountability.

Citation: Jahn, Jody L.S. 2019. Shifting the safety rules paradigm: introducing doctrine to US wildland firefighting operations. Safety Science 115:237-246. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2019.02.002
Topic(s): Human Dimensions of Fire Management, Human Factors of Firefighter Safety
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 19157
FRAMES RCS number: 57409
Record updated: Mar 26, 2019