AbstractThis paper presents the results of the first stage of a research project focused upon supervisor–apprentice communication in the construction industry and the influence that this communication has on apprentices’ health, safety, and wellbeing. In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 apprentices and 11 supervisors in the Australian construction industry. Interviews explored the quality and nature of supervisor–apprentice communication. The data was analyzed using an inductive and iterative process of reading, coding, and reflection. The results show that apprentice–supervisor interactions play an important role in what is learned and, ultimately, how safety is enacted. Previous research has identified the frequency and quantity of supervisor communication as important for safety in the construction industry. However, The findings of the present study extend this work to provide qualitative insights into the role played by supervisors’ safety-related communication in determining: (1) what is learned about safety and risk by inexperienced workers during their on-the-job training; and (2) how work is performed in ways that reflect varying degrees of risk acceptance among apprentices. The qualitative data provide rich and nuanced information regarding the dynamic interactions that take place between apprentices and supervisors within the material environment of the construction site. The results suggest that providing classroom-based safety training to apprentices may be insufficient to ensure safety learning in practice. Rather, effective safety learning programs for apprentices need to consider the social context of the workplace and ensure that supervisor–apprentice communication is supportive of positive safety learning outcomes and behaviors.

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