How to implement Safety-II in national dam safety regulation in Norway and USA
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Since the early 1900, dam safety programs have been enacted as response to dam failures. Subsequently, other dam failures causing loss of life and property have prompted additional legislation on state and national levels. The failure during initial filling in 1976 of the Teton Dam in Idaho, a Federal earth embankment dam over 300 feet high, reactivated intense public and governmental concern for dam safety. Many of the Dam Safety Guidelines initiatives are reactive measures, and as most of the worlds dams are built between 1930s and 1970s, in the ages of safety were reactive responses with a focus on accidents being as low as possible, this is becoming the norm in current dam safety regulation, Generally, negative outcomes receive more attention than positive outcomes. The consequence of that, is that negativity has a higher impact than positivity. This approach has “infected” the world of safety. The endless feeling that we have to alter processes, systems, practices based on the negative things that happen rather than the positive is common behavior. The focus of the thesis has been dam safety regulation in the United States and Norway, as well as two case studies with negative outcomes, in each country. Atypical or extreme cases usually provide more information because it activates more actors and essential processes in what is being studied. In addition, it is often more important to uncover the more profound causes of a problem and its consequences, than to describe its symptoms and how often they occur. The constant comparative method was used while analyzing the data. It was grounded on an inductive approach with the goal of recognizing patterns and uncovering theoretical properties in the data. By looking at the different data simultaneously, I was able to check and recheck for similarities. Then, the ideas and concept were formed on how to approach the analysis. It was clear that the reactive Safety-II ideology was not as present as the proactive approaches. Safety as a safety-II approach can’t be managed by imposing restrictions on how work is done. The solution should rather focus on identifying the situations where variability and everyday routine together generate unwanted results and outcomes. While monitoring the behavior of the systems functions, performance variability can be coordinated when it gets out of control. Simultaneously, situations where performance variability have positive results, need to be reviewed and learned from to manage and reinforce those results.