Risk, Profit, or Safety: Sociotechnical Systems under Stress

Burcak Basbug Erkan, Gunes Ertan, Jungwon Yeo, Louise Comfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Sociotechnical systems are designed to perform technical functions under organizational management for the benefit of society, but face major challenges in high risk operations such as mining. The mining industry in Turkey confronts a set of conflicting goals. Underground mining is a dangerous operation that creates continuing exposure to risk for miners who extract the coal. Yet, coal is an essential commodity for the growing Turkish economy, with mining operations now largely conducted by private companies seeking to maximize profit. Known strategies for managing mining operations to increase workers’ safety exist and have been legally adopted in law and policy in Turkey, but require substantial investment of resources and time to put into practice. These same requirements in practice reduce profit to mining companies and slow production. The challenge is to balance these conflicting pressures in the mining industry to achieve low-cost energy for society, maintain safety for the miners, and ensure reasonable return on investment for mining companies. Achieving this balance in practice represents a classic collective action problem in which maximum benefit to the whole society can only be achieved by reasoned, informed action taken by multiple actors adapting to changing conditions under constraints of limited time and resources. These conflicting demands require a continual process of monitoring uncertain conditions, calibrating investment in safety in relation to cost of failure, and adapting to changing operating conditions in near-real time. We explore this set of conflicting pressures as a policy issue that confronts the mining industry globally, but inquire specifically into conditions that led to the deadly mine fire in Soma, Manisa, Turkey on May 13, 2014 as a study of a sociotechnical system under stress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-210
Number of pages12
JournalSafety Science
Volume88
Early online date17 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

sociotechnical system
Security systems
Safety
Mineral industry
Miners
Turkey
Profitability
Industry
miner
Coal
Mine fires
coal
industry
profit
Pressure
Costs
Costs and Cost Analysis
Carisoprodol
costs
collective behavior

Bibliographical note

© 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.

Keywords

  • Sociotechnical systems
  • Industrial risk
  • Coal resources
  • Mine safety

Cite this

Risk, Profit, or Safety: Sociotechnical Systems under Stress. / Basbug Erkan, Burcak; Ertan, Gunes; Yeo, Jungwon; Comfort, Louise.

In: Safety Science, Vol. 88, 10.2016, p. 199-210.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Basbug Erkan, Burcak ; Ertan, Gunes ; Yeo, Jungwon ; Comfort, Louise. / Risk, Profit, or Safety: Sociotechnical Systems under Stress. In: Safety Science. 2016 ; Vol. 88. pp. 199-210.
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