Managing ‘A Little Bit Unsafe’: Complexity, Construction Safety and Situational Self-Organising

Sherratt, Fred and Ivory, Chris (2019) Managing ‘A Little Bit Unsafe’: Complexity, Construction Safety and Situational Self-Organising. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 26 (11). pp. 2519-2534. ISSN 1365-232X

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Purpose: To unpack the shared understandings of safety held by workers on large UK construction sites using a complexity lens, and so provide empirical support for the inclusion of situational self-organising within construction site safety management systems. Methodology: A social constructionist epistemology supports the discourse analysis of talk (semi-structured interview and conversational), text (safety management systems and documentation) and visual (safety related signage) data collection from five large (+£20m) UK construction sites. Findings: Construction workers readily understand safety to be an emergent phenomenon with the complex system that is the construction site. Contemporary safety management approaches struggle with this complexity, yet there is the potential to mobilise situational self-organising on sites to improve safety in practice. Research Limitations: Epistemological foundations mean no claim is made to generalisability as perceived by traditional positivistic parameters. The data is limited to large (+£20m) UK construction sites, however underlying construction management systems are common to the industry as a whole and can find fit with practitioner experiences and other empirical academic work from both the UK and other countries. Practical Implications: Situational self-organising of safety management within the construction workforce is proposed as a key contribution to a relevant, dynamic and effective SMS. Originality/Value: Data is analysed from a social constructionist perspective and considered through a complexity lens. This approach unpacks this data in an original way to seek synergy with existing adaptive safety approaches, specifically situational self-organising, and make recommendations for practice.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Complexity, Safety, Situational Self-Organising, Social Constructionism
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Fred Sherratt
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2019 10:07
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:54

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