Online Program

Culture of Safety and Other Useful Myths: Anthropological Work in Occupational Safety, Historically and Potentially

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Casper Bendixsen, PhD, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI
Kathrine Barnes, MS, MPH, National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI
Anthropologists have always been exposed to the various beliefs and practices surrounding labor and health. Over the last two centuries, most anthropological accounts of health and labor are a step or two removed from the world of interventions and other applied activities, but this has changed in recent decades. This is especially evident in the world of public health as anthropologists have gained recognition, even notoriety, as important contributors to the discipline. The same cannot be said of anthropology’s contributions to the study of health, and especially safety, as defined in the domain of labor. This is not due to an absence of effort or important publications. Nevertheless, explicit ethnographic research and social theory used in the study of occupational health and safety does not reach the same profile as similar examples in public health at large. This presentation will assess to what extent anthropology has specifically contributed to occupational health and safety. Anthropological theory can certainly be seen in the development of concepts like a “culture of safety,” sometimes despite begrudging anthropologists. Also, the popular methods often used in community-based participatory research are also certainly akin to other ethnographic endeavors. Beyond these kinds of contributions, this presentation will also address the occasional absence of anthropological effort as well as the critiques of occupational health and safety researchers to pursue and harness the social-cultural domain. It is only in this context, that we may also begin to discuss the potential future of anthropological efforts in occupational health and safety.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Occupational health and safety
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
describe the history of anthropological and ethnographic contributions to occupational health and safety; discuss their ramifications, unforeseen and intended; and lastly, this presentation will assess what future anthropological efforts could be undertaken, useful or otherwise.

Keyword(s): Occupational Health and Safety, Methodology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a trained medical anthropologist and MPH with several years experience in health and culture research. I am currently employed in the National Farm Medicine Center of the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation exploring agricultural health and occupational safety in rural communities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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