Industrial Risk Communication and Conflict Mitigation Strategies.

  • Carmelo Di Mauro RGS S.r.l., Risk Governance Solutions, 21052 Busto Arsizio (VA), Italy
  • Daniele Baranzini Ergonomica snc, 20047 Brugherio (MB), Italy
Keywords: Seveso Directive, risk communication, institutional learning, industrial risk perception and conflict, emergency preparedness and response.


Lombardy is one of the most densely populated and industrialized regions in Europe, where nearly 280 Seveso sites are located. The issue of risk communication, as set by the European Seveso Directive is therefore of high relevance in this region. Nevertheless, the Lombardy Region Authorities consider that the implementation of the Directive’s provisions is too weak. Therefore, the Lombardy Region financed an exploratory research in November 2009 and all the research activities ended in February 2011. (Éupolis Lombardia 2011). The research was conducted in order to estimate the existing gaps in risk communication, the subsequent conflicts and to evaluate how to improve the participation of the population in the emergency preparedness activities. The main goal of the project was to improve the communication of risk to the population exposed to industrial risks, hence to mitigate the related social conflict on the basis of an institutional learning process involving governmental bodies industrial organizations and the population. The project was supported by a multidisciplinary research group, which investigated the following aspects:

- the regional activities regarding the risk communication at local level;

- the nature and status of the main stakeholders groups’ perception of the industrial risks and the existing conflicts, collected through interviews and groups’ discussions;

- the analysis of the gaps and ways of improvement related to an effective strategy of communication between industry, population and emergency services. A forum involving all the institutional stakeholders was set to discuss this issue.

The paper reports the main results of the research and illustrates the potential strategies to improve the risk communication and the population participation and preparedness for the Lombardy Region. The results showed that the level of risk perception of the population in Lombardy is still too low to define a program of communication without having considered in more detail the mode of involvement of the population. In a context characterized by a distorted perception of risk, the low risk perception could be a sensitive issue that may impend the start of the communication process because it could generate anxiety, alarmism or unnecessary conflicts. Nevertheless, the experiments carried out showed that the population potentially exposed to the industrial risks, if properly involved, shows particular interest in issues related to prevention and self-protection. According to the main results of research project, the involvement of population into a dedicated programme on risk communication should not present a significant concern and the conflict between the industries and the population does not appear to be a particular obstacle to risk communication. On the contrary it was shown that collaboration could be beneficial for all the stakeholders while the most significant limitation to this process, is the low public perception of the problem.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Carmelo Di Mauro, RGS S.r.l., Risk Governance Solutions, 21052 Busto Arsizio (VA), Italy

He has obtained in 1994 a MSc degree in Environmental Engineering at the Polytechnic of Milan, Italy. He has more than 17 years of international experience in the field of risk analysis (risk and emergency management, including methodological development, lessons-learnt mechanisms, addressing the needs of civil protection authorities, political decision makers, and relevant stakeholders). He worked at  TNO (Institute of Environmental Sciences, Energy Research and Process Innovation, The Netherlands) as Post-Doc Researcher and he joined the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in 2001 where he worked until 2009. During the last period at JRC, he contributed to develop the preparatory studies to support the release of the EC Directive on "Identification and Designation of European Critical Infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their Protection" (EC Council Directive 114/2008). In relation to the provided support to the development of the Directive, the 15 of December 2008 he received a “JRC Excellence Award” on in the category “Support to EU Policy”. At the moment, he is working as a consultant for RGS S.r.l (Risk Governance Solutions) company.

Daniele Baranzini, Ergonomica snc, 20047 Brugherio (MB), Italy

Senior Consultant for ERGONOMICA; EDUCATION 2009, PhD at the Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Dublin, Ireland ; PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE 13 years experience in Industrial/organisational safety, risk and human factors programmes in civil aviation and process industry domains. Project management and research functions in several EU Research Projects in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Framework Programmes in the area of aviation safety and human factors.


Beck, U. (1999). World risk society. Wiley-Blackwell

Couch, S.R., Kroll-Smith, J.S., 1991. Communities at Risk. Collective Responses toTechnological Hazards. Peter Lang, New York.

Irwin, A., Simmons, P., Walker, G., 1999. Faulty environments and risk reasoning: the local understanding of industrial hazards. Environment and Planning A 31, 1311–1326.

Kasperson, R.E., Kasperson, J.X., 1996. The social amplification and attenuation of risk. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 545, 95–105.

Kasperson, Roger E. 1992. “The Social Amplification of Risk: Progress in Developing an Integrative Framework.” In S. Krimsky and D. Golding (Eds.) Social Theories of Risk (pp. 117-152). Westport: Praeger.

Kasperson, Roger E., Ortwin Renn, Paul Slovic, Halina S. Brown, Jacque Emel, Robert Goble, Jeanne X. Kasperson, and Samuel Ratick. 1988. “The Social Amplification of Risk: A Conceptual Framework.” Risk Analysis 8(2):177-187.

L. Smillie and A. Blissett A model for developing risk communication strategy, Journal of Risk Research Vol. 13, No. 1, January 2010, 115–134

Lalo, A. (1990). Informing the Public on Major Technological Risks: Communication Strategies of the Bouches-du-Rhone Campain, April-June 1989. In Proceedings of the European Conference on Communicating with the Public about Major Accident Hazards organized by the CEC, Directorate-General Environment, Conservation Protection and Nuclear Safety DG XI with the Joint Res Centre, Ispra Estab., the Palace Hotel, Varese, Italy.

Lash, S., 2000. Risk culture. In: Adam, B., Beck, U., Van Loon, J. (Eds.), The Risk Society and Beyond: Critical Issues for Social Theory. Sage, London, pp. 47–62.

Macgill, S.M., 1987. The Politics of Anxiety. Pion, London.

November, V., 2004. Being close to risk. From proximity to connexity. International Journal of Sustainable Development 7, 273–286.

Pellizzoni, L. Daniele Ungaro, 2000, “Technological risk, participation and deliberation. Some results from three Italian case studies”, Journal of Hazardous Materials, 78, (2000), p 261–280

Petts, J., Horlick-Jones, T and Murdock, G., 2001. The Social Amplification of Risk: The Media and the Public. Contract Research Report 329/2001, HSE Books, Sudbury.

PORTO, C. M. (2006). Percezione del rischio sismico e vulcanico nell’area etnea. popolazione urbana e rurale a confronto. web:

Renn, O. 1991. Risk communication and the social amplification of risk. In Communicating risks to the public: International perspectives, ed. R.E. Kasperson and P.-J.M. Stallen, 457–81. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.

Rosenthal (1990) Comunicating with the Public about Major Accident Hazards: Legitimacy, Credibility and Risk. In Proceedings of the European Conference on Communicating with the Public about Major Accident Hazards organized by the CEC, Directorate-General Environment, Conservation Protection and Nuclear Safety DG XI with the Joint Res Centre, Ispra Estab., the Palace Hotel, Varese, Italy.

Simmons, P., Walker, G., 2004. Living with technological risk: industrial encroachment on sense of place. In: Boholm, Å., Löfstedt, R. (Eds.), Contesting Local Environments. London, Earthscan, pp. 90–106.

Slovic, P. (Ed.), 2000. The Perception of Risk. Earthscan, London.

Slovic, P. 1986. Informing and educating the public about risk. Risk Analysis 6, no. 4: 403–15.

Stern, Paul C. “Learning through Conflict: A Realistic Strategy for Risk Communication Policy.” Sciences Vol. 24, No. 1 (February 1991): 99.

Tulloch, J., Lupton, D., 2003. Risk and Everyday Life. Sage, London.

Walker, G., Simmons, P., Irwin, A., Wynne, B., 1998. Public Perception of Risks Associated with Major Accident Hazards. CRR 194/1998, HSE Books, Sudbury.

Wiegman, O., Gutteling, J. And Boer, H. (1990). Public Reactions to the Confrontation with an Industrial Hazard. In Proceedings of the European Conference on Communicating with the Public about Major Accident Hazards organized by the CEC, Directorate-General Environment, Conservation Protection and Nuclear Safety DG XI with the Joint Res Centre, Ispra Estab., the Palace Hotel, Varese, Italy.

How to Cite
Di Mauro, C., & Baranzini, D. (2011). Industrial Risk Communication and Conflict Mitigation Strategies. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 4(4), 109-120.