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Title: Disability and safety management systems in TQM and non-TQM organisations
Author: Sinclair-Williams, M. J. M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3414 4836
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1998
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Historically society has, at various periods in time, protected the health, safety and welfare of those most disadvantaged by using socially based collective mechanisms. Within the United Kingdom the model used to achieve this collective protection has developed from proscription, under the Factories Acts, to a more self-regulatory and risk based approach advocated by Lord Roben's under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and its relevant statutory provisions. The body tasked with providing examples of good practice and regulating the provisions of the Act, The Health and Safety Executive, advocate a management-led model using the principles of total quality management (TQM). This model is one which purports to focus on a systematic and empowered approach by involving all staff in the evaluation and reduction of systematic error within processes throughout the whole organisation. It can be argued that the contemporary disadvantaged are no longer the children of the industrial revolution but are those members of society who seek employment yet are handicapped by society through disability or impairment- the paradigm of disability. This study sought to explore this paradigm of disability and TQM within the context of two contrasting industrial sectors - the engineering and retail sectors. The study sought to break new ground by exploring whether the TQM model, which advocates system totality, reduction in variation and continuous improvement as fundamental principles, does in fact provide improved cognitive adequacy (a construct of institutional responsibility, communication and problem resolution) within the paradigm of disability. The study used a triangulation methodology to collect qualitative data at the individual and institutional level. This involved a number of phases comprising group discussions, focus groups and self-completed questionnaires (n=1135) by economically active disabled, impaired and handicapped individuals and at the organisational level case study analysis (n=8) and self-completed questionnaires (n=2181) by institutional key players. Although the construct of disability is multifaceted, the study concluded that at the individual level a number of factors were perceived to be ranked higher and as such more important to disabled employees in maintaining their health, safety and welfare. These were further classified into 'software' and 'hardware' domains of a safety management system with institutional social support being most important. Social support comprised support, communication and trust and was perceived to be low at the organisational level. At the institutional or organisational level social support can be measured using the theory of cognitive adequacy comprising responsibility, communication and problem resolution. When measured at the organisational level, via the policy domain, cognitive adequacy was once more concluded to be low or absent. These results applied equally to individuals within both the retail and engineering sectors. The study also concluded that, at the organisational level, safety systems which can be categorised as formal did not exist to meet the needs of the disabled within the organisations studied. This was particularly evident at the policy domain level where it was noted that few companies had included provisions for the allocation of specifically defined responsibility and control. However there existed many informal sub-systems which had developed through group dynamics and personal interrelations. In many cases those tasked with operational responsibility were unaware of such sub-systems. There also existed many barriers within the disability paradigm to both the duty holder and disabled employees meeting specific duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. In particular communication, both verbal and non-verbal, presented the highest ranked barrier to organisations achieving a high cognitive adequacy condition. Each construct was measured using contingency tables and log-linear analysis to determine any association between TQM and non-TQM organisations for the paradigm of disability. Significant differences in data acquisition, performance measurement and problem resolution existed between TQM and Non-TQM organisations. However in relation to the paradigm of disability, the study concluded that the data supported the null hypothesis that, in the context of the paradigm of disability, no significant differences were exhibited between the safety management systems (SMS) of organisations who had adopted TQM and those that had not. Holistically this study has provided a deeper understanding of the complexity of the disabled paradigm and safety provisions at work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Health and safety at work