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Seat-belt wearing rates in the North reflect workers in the oil industry, necessitating sociocultural descriptions on the issue. The objective of this study was to describe how the social context influences oil workers' views of risk and seat-belt wearing behaviour in northern Alberta. The study design was qualitative research. Focus groups were held with oil workers in three northern Alberta locations. Forty-five oil industry workers participated in 3 focus groups held in a different northern Alberta location, each consisting of 15 participants. Focus group discourse was centred on a series of questions that were clustered around the following themes: (1) propensity to take risks; (2) work patterns and workplace routines; (3) driving history and patterns; (4) self-disclosed seat-belt wearing behaviour; and (5) social relationships. Northern oil workers believe that taking safety risks is an essential characteristic of who they are and where they work. Employers demand consecutive number of hours on the job and offer attractive incentives for working overtime that encourages risk-taking. Risk-taking also appears in driving where workers take numerous risks to get home after they have worked 12-hour shifts for 14 consecutive days. Most are situational seat-belt wearers, buckling up in inclement weather, at the presence of numerous logging trucks and the threat of drunk and/or fatigued drivers. Without prompting, northern oil workers consider fatigued driving as the most dangerous driving risk they experience in the north. Nearly every respondent has experienced fatigued driving after completing his last work shift in a 14-day rotation. Seat-belt wearing initiatives for oil workers during off-work driving should be led by the oil industries. For example, they could support and encourage the police to increase their enforcement, lobby the government for higher penalties, punish their workers who are caught not wearing seat belts and collaborate with local communities to develop programs that will increase awareness of seat-belt wearing. Because workers described fatigued driving as the key risk in the North, oil industries should become engaged in interventions, with seat-belt wearing as a vital component of fatigued driving.

Citation

J Peter Rothe. Oil workers and seat-belt wearing behaviour: the northern Alberta context. International journal of circumpolar health. 2008 Jun;67(2-3):226-34

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PMID: 18767342

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