Introducing site sense: comparing situated knowledge in construction to coalmining

Emmanuel Aboagye-Nimo, Ani Raiden

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The acknowledgment of the use of tacit knowledge as a safety praxis in the mining industry has been in existence for over half a century. This is referred to as pit sense. On the contrary, the use of tacit knowledge and common sense for site safety is only gathering steam in the construction industry. As a relatively new concept and one that conflicts with official practices and policies, this type of knowledge still receives resistance from individuals in managerial roles. Common sense in construction and pit sense in coalmining substantial similarities including their heavy dependence on self-preservation and the use of a bottom-up approach i.e. both focusing on the discretion of the workers. The aim of this paper is to shed light on common sense safety in the construction industry as an approach to safety while juxtaposing with coalminers’ pit sense approach. Non-participant observations and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data on the practices of workers of micro construction firms in relation to common sense safety. This data was analysed in comparison to secondary data on coalminers’ pit sense safety. Findings from this study indicate that unlike common sense, pit sense has evolved from being regarded as a mere informal practice to being acknowledged by managers as a way of workers taking responsibility and accountability for their own safety. Thus even turning a blind eye to practices that fall outside the scope of official practices. Common sense and pit sense are both recognised as safety practices that are not formally taught but acquired through continuous practice. They are both situational knowledge that are gained through informal techniques and close interactions amongst workers. Lastly, in both schools of thought, it is widely known that experienced workers are proud to possess and demonstrate pit sense and common sense respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2016
EventProceedings 32nd Annual ARCOM Conference 2016 - Manchester
Duration: 5 Sept 2016 → …


ConferenceProceedings 32nd Annual ARCOM Conference 2016
Period5/09/16 → …


  • coalmining
  • common sense
  • local knowledge
  • pit sense
  • site sense


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