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LHU News

Lock Haven University professor has book chapter published

Safety Culture

During the fall 2019 semester, Lock Haven University professor, Dr. Gregory Walker, had a chapter published in the book, “Safety Culture: Progress, Trends and Challenges,” edited by Michel Sacre. Walker is a sociology professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Education at LHU.

Walker’s chapter, “Want to Work Safe? Go against Your Safety Culture,” is meant for several different audiences, including scientists, business managers, executives and workers. “For experts in the field of industrial safety, it is a sobering analysis of a grain processing plant in the Midwest and a challenge to how we create and encourage safety cultures,” Walker said.

The work in Walker’s chapter previously was presented at the American Sociological Association and a version was printed in the peer-reviewed journal, Safety Science.

“What I researched was from a messy bottom-upward perspective that anyone who heads a complex operation should be aware of,” Walker said. “And ultimately, as a human and a sociologist, I am concerned about the quality of life at people’s workplaces. People should not be killed or injured at work because executives do not listen to workers, or if they value profit over lives or they are just plain incompetent because they are so far removed from pragmatism.”

Originally from the Midwest, Walker had worked for years in a large grain facility. “It is one of the most dangerous jobs and I worked there long enough to know everyone and do everything,” he said. “I drove heavy machinery including locomotives, I cleaned bins while suspended from a rope, I ran a very complicated set of dryers and I repaired and installed machinery.”

An industrial sociologist, Walker teaches courses at LHU that have to do with the workplace, such as sociology of organizations and industrial sociology. Also having practical experience with production, he uses that as well as his research and writing in the classroom. “The very plain language I use is accessible to pretty much anyone and I have always sought to empower people who actually do the work,” he said.

Walker said he has been trained in a number of techniques for conducting his research but found ethnography – “field work” or “qualitative methods” – to be useful for seeing the world from helpful perspectives. “The philosophy that drives it is fundamentally different from that which drives statistical research and hypothesis testing,” he said. “If an ethnographer is interested in a subject matter or people, they go to where they are and do what they do.”              

He had intended to study skill development and what race and gender had to do with it, but said “since ethnography answers questions you never thought to ask, I learned that work safety was a big issue and nobody has more vested interest in working safely than the workers themselves.”

For more information or to buy “Safety Culture: Progress, Trends and Challenges,” visit https://novapublishers.com/shop/safety-culture-progress-trends-and-challenges/.

For more information on Lock Haven University, visit www.lockhaven.edu, email admissions@lockhaven.edu, or call 570-484-2011. 

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Lock Haven University’s main campus is located on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the scenic mountains of Pennsylvania. The university offers 49 undergraduate majors and certifications with 47 minors and five graduate programs.

LHU is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

Greg Walker

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