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Critical Theory: understanding the impact language has on workers’ safety and health

McAleenan, Ciaran and McAleenan, Philip (2017) Critical Theory: understanding the impact language has on workers’ safety and health. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Management, Procurement and Law, 172 (MP2). pp. 52-58. [Journal article]

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URL: http://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/doi/10.1680/jmapl.16.00031

DOI: 10.1680/jmapl.16.00031


Knowledge and awareness of safety, health and well-being concepts in construction, and how engineers positively engage with them, result in clearer understanding, contextualised with function and agency, contributing to the facilitation of prevention through design and safe and healthful construction that enhances well-being. Terminologies such as ‘risk assessment’ and ‘risk management’ have long been central to the business and public health discourses as vehicles for measuring the threats and uncertainties that could disrupt or harm either. Epistemologically, the concepts underpinning them are inherently contradictory. Risk assessment measures uncertainty and, being unpredictable, contains the negation of control, whereas applying management to risk, focusing on targets and processes, equates to control, albeit control of uncertainty and the unpredictable. This inherent contradiction is the driver of solutions aimed at preserving the concept rather than embracing its negation. Using critical theory, the authors deconstruct the language of safety, its meanings, interpretations and impact on workers’ safety, health and well-being. In the context of the human ontological project (nature of being), the research contextualises and contrasts the humanising objectives of construction and engineering with the dehumanising language in the safety discourse. It explores the complexity of meanings, developing new understandings of legal and moral obligations.

Item Type:Journal article
Keywords:education & training; health & safety; management
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment
Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment > School of the Built Environment
Research Institutes and Groups:Built Environment Research Institute
Built Environment Research Institute > Studies Allied to Built Environment Research (SABER)
ID Code:38373
Deposited By: Dr Ciaran McAleenan
Deposited On:25 Jul 2017 10:49
Last Modified:25 Jul 2017 10:49

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