The safety heritage of shipbuilders in Rauma


  • Mikko Aho


Safety Heritage of Shipbuilders in RaumaSafety was among the most widely discussed issues in the oral history interviews conducted with shipbuilders who have worked in the shipyards of Rauma. The subject frequently arose when they talked about their shared history and seems to be among the most significant experiences of their working lives. Consequently, occupational safety is an essential element of the cultural heritage of shipbuilders in Rauma. This article is based on oral history interviews with more than 100 shipbuilders, conducted from 2009-2017.Practically all interviews contain some discussion about safety, nearly always involving descriptions of improvement. The subject is often spontaneously brought up by the narrator before any questions about safety are explicitly asked. Descriptions of the state of occupational safety at the shipyards in the beginning of the narrators’ careers almost invariably paint a bleak picture of dangerous conditions, indifferent attitudes from both management and employees, insufficient protective equipment and frequent accidents. The narrators agree, however, that the situation improved considerably over time. Generally, they do not attribute the improvement to any one single thing. They may mention several changes and some may consider one more important than the other, but as a rule, the narrators seem to think that many separate factors played a role in the positive development of safety standards.Generally, the shipbuilders’ experience with safety does not seem to significantly differ from that of other industrial workers in Finland, or globally. The perception seems to have switched over time, from safety as the individual responsibility of each shipbuilder, to a common concern of the employer and all employees collectively. Developments in safety culture are very important experiences for the shipbuilders. For them, it sometimes was very literally a matter of life or death. As such, it is ‘monumentalized’ in their oral history and is therefore an important element in the shipbuilders’ heritage.




Aho, M. (2017). The safety heritage of shipbuilders in Rauma. Tekniikan Waiheita, 35(4), 45–57. Noudettu osoitteesta