The use of experience and situated knowledge in ensuring safety among workers of small construction firms

Emmanuel Aboagye-Nimo, Ani Raiden, Susanne Tietze, Andrew King

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


Techniques used by small construction firms with regards to site safety have been found to differ considerably from those of large construction firms. Workers of small construction firms adopt a ‘common sense’ approach and eliminate procedures that the workers deem bureaucratic rather than practical. This paper is based on a PhD research project which aims to critically investigate ‘good’ health and safety practices undertaken by workers of small construction firms and in particular explores the informal ways of managing health and safety. The East Midlands region of the UK was chosen for the study of good practice due to a steady decline in accidents and injuries over the past decade. The research is being conducted with a qualitative approach to gain rich data on site practices and workers perceptions. The findings of a pilot study suggest that workers of the small firms use situated knowledge and experience when dealing with health and safety matters. Experienced workers tend to quickly and informally assess potential risks and subsequently manage their work environment so as to prevent injuries or accidents from happening in collaboration with their co-workers. Specific good practices emerging from the research include verbal and non-verbal communication such as gestures with eyes and hands, vital on-the-job training for new workers and insightful guidance by the leaders in order to attain safe work environments. The aim of this project is to create a foundation for further research into the good practices of small construction firms as the area is currently understudied. Much of the literature in the field focuses on problems and issues with health and safety rather than good practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings 28th Annual ARCOM Conference
Place of PublicationEdinburgh, UK
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2012
EventProceedings 28th Annual ARCOM Conference - Edinburgh, UK, 2012
Duration: 3 Sept 2012 → …


ConferenceProceedings 28th Annual ARCOM Conference
Period3/09/12 → …

Bibliographical note

Original paper first published by ARCOM as part of Conference Proceedings


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