Constructing safety on sites: an exploration of the social construction of safety on large UK construction sites

Sherratt, Felicity Sarah (2012) Constructing safety on sites: an exploration of the social construction of safety on large UK construction sites. PhD thesis, University of Bolton.

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Felicity Sarah Sherratt PhD Thesis 2012.pdf

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Significant attempts have been made by large contractors in the UK construction industry to improve safety on their sites. Safety management systems have been put in place, minimum training requirements have been established, and worker engagement initiatives implemented in the quest for a positive safety culture. However accidents and incidents still occur. Grounded in social constructionism, this study sought to explore how people construct safety in and through their interactions at work on the large construction sites of the UK. Data was collected from five UK construction projects, all over £20m in value, and included site safety signage, conversations discussing safety and various safety documents. Discourse analysis of the data revealed considerable variation in the contextual constructions of safety. Safety was found to be inconsistent, incomplete and incidental, relating to a variety of different realities in a variety of different contexts. Relatively straightforward constructs and discourses developed around safety, such as its polarisation, the construction of safety as PPE itself, and the development of safety as un-safety. However these were further developed by more complicated and interrelated discourses of safety as practice, enforcement and engagement. The variation within and between these master discourses has consequences for safety culture in terms of its construction, homogenisation and perpetuation on sites. The study makes recommendations for further academic research to examine the variation in the discourses of safety within the management hierarchy, who seek to develop a safe work environment through the safety culture programmes yet are challenged by the conflicts of safety as engagement and safety as enforcement. The study also suggests industry interventions to facilitate the improvement and development of practices to assist safety management on large UK construction sites.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Bolton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Divisions: University of Bolton Theses > Civil Engineering
Depositing User: Scott Wilson
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 12:53
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2014 13:06

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