'Risks', 'hazards' and life choices: Reflections on health at work

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22 Citations (Scopus)


The workplace has been extensively and variously evaluated as an environment which - like others - contains risks to health. This paper unpacks such risk assessment by problematising the relation between hazards and risks. Three positions are set out. In the first (materialist or realist), risks map directly onto underlying real hazards. In the second (constructionist or culturalist), hazards are natural, while risks are social constructions. In the final (postmodern) position, both risks and hazards are seen as constructions. The paper goes on to consider the implications of the latter position for assessment of risks in the workplace, arguing that risks are often discounted in the on-going choices made by people who do some things called 'work' and evaluate their continuity of sense-of-self as their 'health'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-687
Number of pages23
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1998
Externally publishedYes


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