> And they are not unique to the wilderness environment, when things like distracted or impaired driving occur with far greater frequency and potential to impact far greater numbers of people directly or indirectly.
Another environment where I have heard that this discussion occurs is skydiving. This came up when I was talking to an assistant dean about safety culture; she is a skydiver recreationally. She explained that nationally, the recreational skydiving industry has a strong, coordinated safety outreach effort (see https://uspa.org/safetyday for information on their annual "Safety Day" event). However, skydiving's public image as a safe activity is undermined by daredevil sky divers who like to take video of unnecessary chances they take and post their stunts on Youtube. The industry believes that this daredevil image is an important marketing problem it faces. In support of this idea, I have had conversations with several people who are interested in trying skydiving, but have been forbidden to do so by their family. And I have heard that Chinese students interested in studying chemistry face family opposition for similar reasons.
In my mind, there are parallels to chemistry educators who include apparently uncontrolled risk as part of the charm quotient of their class demonstrations. See, for example, that January 1980 article in J Chem Ed which describes the second law of "Exocharmic Reactions" which describes it's "second law" of these reactions as
"When the reaction occurs, the fraction of the latent charm evolved depends directly upon the technical and histrionic skills of the person performing the experiment."
I suspect that a short cut to histrionic skills is apparent risk. I suspect that this approach to classroom chemistry helps explain the reaction Chinese students face and other cases of chemophobia.
One lesson I draw from this is that the safety culture of any group must be pro-active in responding to incidents in their area of expertise and be ready to explain to the public that the risk attitudes of a particular individuals should not be taken as being that of the group of the whole. Some good news in this regard came up last week when a Pew poll found that the public's trust in scientists is on the increase. See
for one news story on this.
>Ralph, I do hope this has been helpful as you prepare content for San Diego.
It has been. I'm still feeling my way towards what I want to say in this presentation and the wide variety of perspectives on this topic is very helpful.
Thanks to everyone for their contribution to this discussion.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional membership chair at membership**At_Symbol_Here**dchas.org
Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchas
Previous post | Top of Page | Next post