Practising occupational health and safety using social practice theory

Ani Raiden, Emmanuel Aboagye-Nimo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Occupational health and safety literature embodies two worlds: one that takes a hard, top-down approach with a view that legislation and organisational policy and procedures are essential to achieving an environment that mitigates risks to workers’ health and/ or safety. This perspective is aligned with rational management and has tended to dominate research and practice in and about organisations, work, workers and the organisation-work-worker relationships, including literature on occupational health and safety. The other takes a social constructionist view and places the worker at the heart of mobilising health and safety at work. Understanding the impact of individual and group characteristics (such as worker behaviour, perception, and safety climate) on occupational health and safety are at the heart of this perspective. As workers are definitive key stakeholders in occupational health and safety, interest and research in this space is growing. However, despite advancements in research and practice in both spaces, accidents still happen at work and worker health and well-being feature at the forefront of management agenda. We employ social practice theory to bring together the discourse of the two worlds in occupational health and safety research and practice. Social practice theory offers a framework for analysis which attempts to synthesise the structural focus of systems, such as legislative frameworks and organisational policy and procedures on occupational health and safety, and the processual and cultural, the socially constructed, approaches. We argue that such integration holds the key to extending work in this important area.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 35th Annual ARCOM Conference
Place of PublicationLeeds
PublisherAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780995546349
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • social practice theory
  • occupational health and safety
  • Discourse
  • Safety climate


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