Who Makes the Call --- and How?
2018-03-16T14:19:33Z (GMT) by
Recently we proposed that mission statements incorporating the concept of reducing uncertainty could provide a framework for learning the bread and depth of information that exists about health and safety. We briefly explained the definition of uncertainty in the context of health and safety, with the unifying principle being that everything you learn about safety is about exerting greater control. Acquiring more knowledge about an experiment, using equipment appropriately, designing experiments well, executing procedures well, and obtaining appropriate training are all mechanisms for increasing control.
Both researchers and their institutions can be the actors exerting control. But who should make the risk-based decisions related to the design of an experiment? Insecurity about the consequences of our own decisions frequently makes us want to have someone else decide a matter about safety, especially when that matter involves a gray area. Here we explain why researchers should be the main decision-makers about the safety of their experiments, with the researchers striving to thoroughly and creatively reduce the uncertainty of the well-being of themselves, their colleagues, and the environment. Even more, after comprehending the unifying principle outlined above for learning information about safety, researchers should make their primary goal in safety to be conceiving mechanisms for exerting greater control over their experiments that go beyond the mechanisms that health and safety practitioners teach. The essay ends by discussing how decision-making by researchers can improve the culture of safety.