Intended or unintended consequences? A critical reappraisal of the safety first movement and its non-union safety committees

Lucy Taksa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

For the most part, the extensive literature produced on joint labourg-management safety committees since the 1970s has neglected historical antecedents. To provide insights from the past, this article focuses on America's early 20th-century Safety First Movement, which sought to reduce accidents through the adoption of non-union safety committees and re-engineering techniques, based on various aspects of scientific management. By assessing the relationship between these 'soft' and 'hard' dimensions of Safety First, this article demonstrates that the two were united in practical terms not only in the US but also in Britain and Australia. This fusion, it is argued, provided a means of obtaining workers' consent for organizational and workplace changes and overcoming prevailing resistance to the methods associated with scientific management. In doing so, it emphasizes the value of focusing on management goals and anticipated consequences of employee participation and representation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-36
Number of pages28
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

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