This paper discusses the relationships between subjective risk perception and individuals’ adaptation to high-risk working conditions. It is based on a study carried out among personnel on offshore service vessels in the North Sea and Norwegian fishermen. Risk perception, fatality rates and the discrepancy between subjective risk perception and formal risk levels are compared. The results of these comparisons are discussed by using the concept of culture, and indicate that a correlation between formal risk estimation and subjective perception does not necessarily exist. In fact, subjective risk perception may be seen as a reflection of interactional conventions developed among employees dealing with their working conditions, more than as a reflection of the formal estimated risk level.