Thursday, October 17, 2013

Alberta's discourse around workplace injury

I've recently published an article entitled Framing and blaming: Construction of workplace injuries by legislators in Alberta, Canada.

Starting from the premise that government members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) have successfully resisted pressure to increase state injury-prevention efforts, I sought to identify the narratives used by MLAs to manage political pressure for increased injury-prevention efforts via legislative analysis from 2000 to 2012.

I eventually identified three recurring narratives around workplace injury: (1) injuries are caused by ignorance and inattention, (2) workplaces are safe and getting safer, and (3) risk is inevitable and mitigation is (too) expensive. 

The consistency of the messages delivered by MLAs over time suggests an intentional effort to frame workplace injury in ways that manage political pressure for greater state efforts to prevent workplace injuries while maintaining the government’s legitimacy. The narratives used by MLAs draw on widely held beliefs about workplace injuries, including the careless worker myth and the notion that safety pays.

-- Bob Barnetson

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