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Conference Papers Year : 2012

To describe or to prescribe ? Or both ?


The aim of this presentation is to introduce an ongoing collaboration, and some of its results, between INERIS, GDF SUEZ and GRT GAZ for the design and implementation of a strategy for introducing and managing human and organisational factors within a large technical system, a high pressure gas transmission network. Little is actually published about how to shape a human and organisational factors strategy based on sound principles derived from scientific research in different fields such as cognitive psychology, ergonomics, sociology and (safety) management. These disciplines have different philosophies when it comes to action. Although one finds him/herself at the heart of the project of safety when doing so, there is literally no guidance (or not much) about how to proceed. Yet, a description of activities obtained from a research strategy based on observations and interviews with operators, engineers and managers, does not lead directly to a prescription of how to improve situations. There is a process of translation that is implicit rather than explicit, and sometimes even absent from the scientific literature, depending on the disciplines. Very often, this is however what companies have in mind when they open their doors to external observers, i.e. to improve safety. The move from the outsider position to the insider one, shaping companies practices, can raise much concern for researchers. But, if the gap between descriptions to prescriptions is difficult to bridge, it doesn't mean that it can't be at least addressed and made more explicit. Different options can be expected on this issue, with sometimes compatible and sometimes incompatible research postures between disciplines. This is a very important topic. In order to clarify it, the paper will present results from fieldworks at different levels, in relation with the problem of translating them into practical, prescriptive actions for the company.
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Dates and versions

ineris-00971054 , version 1 (02-04-2014)


  • HAL Id : ineris-00971054 , version 1
  • INERIS : EN-2012-313


Jean-Christophe Le Coze, Romuald Perinet, Nicolas Herchin, Philippe Louys. To describe or to prescribe ? Or both ?. 6. International Conference Working on Safety "Towards safety through advanced solutions", Sep 2012, Sopot, Poland. ⟨ineris-00971054⟩


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