Equity in safety: how transportation safety professionals in Alberta’s trucking industry view their roles, their systems, and their industry

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Elniski, David Alexander
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Women and Gender Studies
This study examines equity and equality from a qualitative, critical theory perspective in occupational and trucking-specific safety dynamics in Alberta’s trucking industries. Based on interviews with twelve trucking safety professionals currently working in their profession in Alberta, either as carrier employees or independent consultants, this study investigates how equity and equality are used in the management of trucking safety systems and how trucking professionals, and the systems they oversee, address social and cultural factors such as socioeconomics, gender, and ethnicity on safety performance. Results indicate that trucking safety systems are fundamentally equality-based: the goal is no negative incidents of loss for everyone affected by a company’s activities. Trucking safety professionals use equity-based and equality-based approaches to safety management, with equity-based approaches generally used for training and mentoring at the level of individual workers. Using reflexive thematic analysis, I describe the following five themes: 1) safety activities focus on compliance, not necessarily safety outcomes; 2) employer power over staff greatly influences safety outcomes; 3) safety professionals believe in the importance of the work they do; 4) the personal is professional, and; 5) equity and equality, as ways to get to equality, lie on a spectrum, not a dichotomy. Further research is recommended to examine, in praxis at a carrier, what safety management activities are more effective when based on equity, equality, or a degree of both.
transportation safety professionals , trucking industry , Alberta , equity and equality , critical theory , occupational safety , trucking safety systems , safety performance factors , safety management