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An Ethnographic Investigation into a Series of Incidents on a Large Construction Project

8 pagesPublished: October 23, 2017

Abstract

A series of incidents in a short period created cause for concern on a large construction project in the UK (+£500m). Incident investigations are one of the ways to learn about safety failings, so that remedial action can be put into place to avoid a recurrence. The researcher was a member of the H&S department, with the role of a participant observer during the incident investigation period. Data collection included: informal conversations with employees; attending safety and accident investigation meetings; viewing project documents; and attending the safety stand down that occurred. The case study findings revealed that a blame culture restricted information flow on the incidents; and consequently there was a focus on easily observable unsafe acts, and static unsafe conditions, providing a narrow rather than deep perspective. These acts and conditions, such as a lack of compliance with PPE, or a weather condition, were often difficult to manage. For safety understanding the project repeatedly used Heinrich’s (1931) seminal work as a foundation. However, this work is arguably outdated as it focuses on accidents on an individual rather than complex socio-technical level.

Keyphrases: accident investigation, construction, ethnography, safety

In: Marsha Lamb (editor). AUBEA 2017: Australasian Universities Building Education Association Conference 2017, vol 1, pages 62--69

Links:
BibTeX entry
@inproceedings{AUBEA2017:An_Ethnographic_Investigation_into,
  author    = {David Oswald},
  title     = {An Ethnographic Investigation into a Series of Incidents on a Large Construction Project},
  booktitle = {AUBEA 2017: Australasian Universities Building Education Association Conference 2017},
  editor    = {Marsha Lamb},
  series    = {EPiC Series in Education Science},
  volume    = {1},
  pages     = {62--69},
  year      = {2017},
  publisher = {EasyChair},
  bibsource = {EasyChair, http://www.easychair.org},
  issn      = {2516-2306},
  url       = {https://easychair.org/publications/paper/Z2Cx},
  doi       = {10.29007/999r}}
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