Et in Arcadia ego? 'zero target' safety programmes in the UK construction industry

Sherratt, Fred (2013) Et in Arcadia ego? 'zero target' safety programmes in the UK construction industry. In: 29th Annual ARCOM Conference, 2-4 September 2013, Reading, UK.

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Zero has become the biggest number in UK construction site safety. The emergence of zero within safety management programmes crosses industries and international boundaries, and has become a prominent safety feature of large construction contractors operating in the UK. However, zero has also attracted academic attention within these contexts; its practicality within practice as well as wider ethical and philosophical considerations. Indeed, a social constructionist perspective would suggest considerable variety in the way zero is approached, accepted and positioned within work and safety contexts. This incoherence will inevitably influence the reception and success of such programmes, and the potential for their impact in practice. ‘Zero Harm’, ‘Mission Zero’ and ‘Target Zero’, programmes currently in operation in the UK, may inspire commitment and safe working from some but disenchantment from others, depending on the individuals’ constructions of safety in practice, the programmes’ constructions of zero and safety, and the complex relationships between the two. Through a social constructionist approach, an initial exploration has been made of zero safety programmes within the UK construction industry. Discourse analysis was undertaken of the corporate promotional material for the programmes in the form of websites, reports and site signage, as well as talk data collected through conversations with site management and operatives who work with the programmes. The analysis found Zero constructed as both philosophy and target, the corporate and site voices developing alternative utopian visions in their incorporation of zero into practice. The findings identified incoherence and inconsistency in the wider discourses of zero, but also suggest it has a necessary place within industry health and safety management in order to support future developments and improvements in practice

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: discourse analysis, health and safety, social construction
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Mohammed Gohrabian
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2016 15:32
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 19:02

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