IRG 3-4: Industry Risk Perception Study (International survey - completed March 2013)

(Harthorn, Holden, Satterfield, Engeman)

This project, funded primarily through the UC CEIN IRG 7 (led by Harthorn), aimed to assess changes in industry EH&S views and practices, first studied in our 2006 international survey (Conti et al. 2008) and also add a new dimension of focused risk perception data on industry leaders in order to investigate links between perceived risk and behaviors such as company attention to and following of guidance documents for safe handling of nanomaterials, compliance with voluntary regulatory programs, attention to worker and environmental safety, waste management practices, and consumer safety. The phone and web survey concluded data collection in June 2010 (n=78 companies in 14 countries). The first publication (Engeman et al. 2012) demonstrated that industry leaders combine moderate to high risk perception or risk uncertainty about the nanomaterials they handle while holding a number of views inconsistent with risk and uncertainty that we interpret as indicating the need for regulatory oversight, such as a ‘go it alone’ attitude about risk management, the view that workers are responsible for their own safety, and lack of adherence to now widely available guidance document recommendations for safe handling. A second publication (Engeman et al. 2013) focuses on the implications for worker safety of these findings for a US subsample (n=45) and is published in a leading industrial hygiene journal.

The industry survey project has been of significant interest to NSE, industry and regulators, as well as NGOs and publics, and the team has made numerous presentations outside of social science venues, including CNS Grad Fellow Engeman’s keynote address in the NanoSafe conference, Grenoble, France, Nov 2012.