What does 'common sense' really mean in health and safety?

Aboagye-Nimo, E. ORCID: 0000-0002-7651-744X and Raidén, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-7176-1139, 2016. What does 'common sense' really mean in health and safety? In: M. Prins, H. Wamelink, B. Giddings, K. Ku and M. Feenstra, eds., Environmental opportunites and challenges: constructioning commitment and acknowledging human experiences. Proceedings of the CIB World Building Congress 2016, Tampere, Finland, 30 May - 3 June 2016. Tampere: Tampere University of Technology, pp. 210-222. ISBN 9789521537424

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Extensive literature search has revealed that construction workers refer to the use of 'common sense' in site safety. This was also discovered in a recently completed PhD project where workers openly discussed a common sense approach to health and safety on site. The use of this term can be problematic. Different workers labelled different behaviours under this generic term. Also, some used it to refer to positive experiences and application of knowledge based on experience. Others employed the term negatively, or dismissively: "It's just common sense…" general use of the term puts emphasis on 'basic knowledge' required for attaining minimal or satisfactory achievement of a given task or activity. This is in conflict with some workers' interpretation of skilled and experience based action. In academic language ideas in this field are more substantially and in depth explored under 'communities of practice' and 'local knowledge'. These concepts offer an avenue for analysis not tied to specific wording employed by respondents but interpreting broader sets of data particularly for this study (i.e. observation material and text around specific extracts of text). This paper presents findings from five micro construction firms regarding the concept of common sense and site safety. Practical constraints, such as a researcher's stage of development and skill in qualitative analysis, potentially hinder the development of argumentation. The interpretative school of thought accepts researchers' influence on the processes; and we add depth and nuanced understanding to this discussion via practical examples of such issues. Interpretation of the data collected through ethnographic case studies indicates although workers interpret common sense differently, although it is essentially a means of working safely. However, common sense safety techniques tend to fall outside strict site rules which are often bureaucratic.

Item Type: Chapter in book
Creators: Aboagye-Nimo, E. and Raidén, A.
Publisher: Tampere University of Technology
Place of Publication: Tampere
Date: 2016
Volume: II
ISBN: 9789521537424
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 20 Jul 2016 14:59
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2019 10:03
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28165

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