Lay versus expert understandings of workplace risk in the food service industry: a multi-dimensional model with implications for participatory ergonomics.
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The recent trend towards cooperative management and prevention of workplace injuries has introduced numerous health and safety actors to the workplace with varying amounts and types of expertise. The purpose of this qualitative research project was to explore the understandings of risk as experienced by food service workers (FSW) and how these compare with an 'expert' in risk assessment. In total 13 FSW, selected based on age, work location, and gender, and one experienced Ergonomist participated in the study. In-depth semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with each participant and transcripts of the interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis by drawing on methods closely related to grounded theory. The findings of this study indicated that the risks for occupational injury as experienced by FSW were multi-dimensional in nature representing not only the physical requirements of the individual's job, but also the social interactions of the FSW with their coworkers, management, and the organization. FSW were also found to be a rich source of knowledge and experience concerning occupational risk and may be under-utilized when designing interventions. The results of this study support a cooperative team approach to reduce the risks of injury in the workplace, with a specific emphasis on inclusion of the worker.
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