Safety or Profit? International Studies in Governance, Change and the Work Environment

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As the title Safety or Profit? suggests, health and safety at work needs to be understood in the context of the wider political economy. This book brings together contributions informed by this view from internationally recognized scholars. It reviews the governance of health and safety at work, with special reference to Australia, Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Three main aspects are discussed. The restructuring of the labor market: this is considered with respect to precarious work and to gender issues...
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Overview

As the title Safety or Profit? suggests, health and safety at work needs to be understood in the context of the wider political economy. This book brings together contributions informed by this view from internationally recognized scholars. It reviews the governance of health and safety at work, with special reference to Australia, Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Three main aspects are discussed. The restructuring of the labor market: this is considered with respect to precarious work and to gender issues and their implications for the health and safety of workers. The neoliberal agenda: this is examined with respect to the diminished power of organized labor, decriminalization, and new governance theory, including an examination of how well the health-and-safety-at-work regimes put in place in many industrial societies about forty years ago have fared and how distinctive the recent emphasis on self-regulation in several countries really is. The role of evidence: there is a dearth of evidence-based policy. The book examines how policy on health and safety at work is formulated at both company and state levels. Cases considered include the scant regard paid to evidence by an official inquiry into future strategy in Canada; the lack of evidence-based policy and the reluctance to observe the precautionary principle with respect to work-related cancer in the United Kingdom; and the failure to learn from past mistakes in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Intended Audience: Researchers; policymakers, trade union representatives, and officials interested in OHS; postgraduate students of OHS; OHS professionals; regulatory and socio-legal scholars.

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Meet the Author

Theo Nichols is Distinguished Research Professor at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, UK, and an associate researcher at the Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre (CWERC). He has written widely on a variety of subjects in the general field of economic sociology—including class relations, management, and productivity—and has a special interest in labor relations in Turkey and China. He was one of the first sociologists in the UK to research health and safety at work, a field to which he has returned at various times since the publication, with Peter Armstrong, of Safety or Profit? in 1973.

David Walters is professor of Work Environment and Director of the Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre (CWERC), a Cardiff University research center in the School of Social Sciences. His research and writing is on various aspects of the work environment, and he has particular interests in employee representation and consultation in healthy and safety, the politics of health and safety at work, regulating health and safety management, chemical risk management at work, and health and safety in small firms. His recent publications include Regulating Workplace Risks: A Comparative Study of Inspection Regimes in Times of Change (2011), Workplace Health and Safety: International Perspectives on Worker Representation (2009), and Within Reach? Managing Chemical Risks in Small Enterprises (2008). He is the editor of the international journal Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, is a member of the IOSH Research Committee, and has advised several state inquiries on health and safety.

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