From ‘preventing accidents’ to ‘creating safety’: a maverick approach to the challenges of workplace safety

Sharman, Andrew Duncan (2019) From ‘preventing accidents’ to ‘creating safety’: a maverick approach to the challenges of workplace safety. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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This Context Statement places central emphasis on my experiential learning and the consequences of my interventions. Through a blend of auto-ethnographical research and reflective practice I analyse, critique and reconceptualise the dominant perceptions and approaches to workplace safety around the world, and the development of my approach to creating the public works which have encouraged, facilitated and supported changes in public perspectives, influenced the evolution of my profession, and developed my personal practice.

Academic research does not always reach the stakeholders that need it most and so I act as a ‘translator’ to decode the theory to provide practical and meaningful insight to provoke thought, build communities of practice, and galvanise the safety profession with operational leadership. At the core of my works is a new philosophy and model of workplace safety - ‘Creating Safety’ - set in sharp contrast to the conventional approaches which tend to be compliance driven and focus on the prevention of accidents. Yet the absence of accidents does not equal the existence of safety. The pursuit of ‘zero harm’ emanates from poor integration of safety leadership and I argue that a more strategic (and more ‘maverick’ or provocative) approach is required.

Cognisant of the need to resonate with the cultural contexts in which I work this Context Statement explores how I consider audience needs, preferences, and language, as I reframe safety as good business leadership, placing exemplary leadership and effective employee engagement at the heart of the approach. Through this hybrid of applied practice and science, I’m able to reframe what safety means to people, and using a blend of humble inquiry, sensemaking, storytelling and adaptive moves nudge stakeholders towards a mindset shift.

This philosophy has evolved over time, with learning, interaction and experience from a range of disciplines and fields of practice including law, organisational behaviour and positive psychology. It is the golden thread running through my practice, and is shown through critical reflections on my public works in occupational health and safety, including a series of published works (eight books – of which four are included in thus D.Prof analysis and submission - and over 200 professional journal articles regularly reaching more than 80,000 readers), public speaking and teaching, and senior roles within my professional bodies.

This Context Statement supports my own development as a practitioner, further increases the credibility of the ‘Creating Safety’ philosophy and contributes to the positive development of workplace safety leadership globally.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Keywords (uncontrolled): Workplace safety, safety culture, leadership, behaviour, accidents
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 31147
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 09:37
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:47

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