This session will introduce attendees to the idea of Occupational Ethnographies, the study of occupational cultures, with the goal of identifying both the norms and barriers that cultures have concerning safety and health. Recent studies of the underground coal mining and the oil and gas drilling sectors will be used to illustrate how to listen to workers and how to use their stories to better understand how they view safety. Included will be information on identifying occupational values, recognizing the semiotics or visible signs and images that are used by the workers to communicate with each other, understanding the importance of the jargon or tribal language used inside the culture, and gathering the stories workers tell that encode safety information. Attendees will learn how to use culture scans to develop safety training that works and break the resistance workers have to this type of training. They will also learn how to begin the slow process of changing a culture from within, by using the norms and values, the heroes and mentors, the language and stories of that culture.
Instructors: Elaine T. Cullen, Ph.D., CMSP, NIOSH, Chattaroy, WA