Episode Summary

Have you ever wondered about the tightrope walk that subcontractors do, balancing on the edge of safety in high-hazard industries? Our exploration into the world of subcontracting safety is eye-opening and crucial, as we dissect the factors that leave these workers more vulnerable to workplace accidents. This episode serves as an investigation into the findings of the paper, “Behind Subcontractor Risk: A Multiple Case Study Analysis of Mining and Natural Resources Fatalities,” by Charan Teja Valluru, Sidney Dekker, and our own Andrew Rae.

Episode Notes

Safety isn’t one-size-fits-all, especially for subcontractors who navigate multiple sites with varying rules and equipment. This episode peels back the layers on the practical safety management challenges subcontractors endure, revealing how transient work complicates the integration of safety protocols.

We scrutinize the institutional oversights and fragmented safety systems that often overlook the needs of these critical yet vulnerable players in the industry. Our conversation isn’t just about identifying problems; it’s an urgent call to action for better practices and a safer future for all involved in subcontracting work.

Discussion Points:

  • The vagaries of subcontracting work
  • Background on the paper being discussed
  • Findings presented in the paper
  • Institutional safety vs. the subcontractor’s work
  • Expertise in the work does not equal expertise in safety
  • Communication and safety work activities
  • Institutional safety mechanisms
  • Dangerous environments and lack of safety knowledge in that environment
  • Subcontractors in the mining industry and the many layers and risks
  • Safety rules are perceived differently by subcontractors
  • Financial and other burdens to following safety protocols for subcontractors


  • The answer to our episode’s question –the short answer in some of it is that there are lots of filtered and missing communication towards contractors’ gaps in situational specific expertise that don’t get identified and just our broad safety management systems and arrangements that don’t work well for the subcontractor context.


Link to the Paper

The Safety of Work Podcast

The Safety of Work on LinkedIn