The safe hand: Gels, water, gloves and the materiality of tactile knowing

Sarah Pink, Jennie Morgan, Andrew Dainty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, the authors demonstrate how an anthropologically informed approach that attends to the material culture of occupational safety and health (OSH) offers new insights for such applied research fields. Research into OSH typically seeks to solve its perennial problem of ‘improving’ workers’ health and safety through scholarship dominated by management disciplines, human factors and ergonomic sciences, and psychological and physiological theories. Here, they focus on the example of ‘the safe hand’ and its making through the materiality of gels, water and gloves in the work of health care workers. In doing so they show how organizational, environmental, embodied and biographical elements of OSH intersect with institutionalized and personalized constituents of the material and sensory culture of safety amongst health care workers. They argue that material culture studies have a pivotal role in revising the agendas of applied research and intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-442
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Material Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Gel
  • gloves
  • safety
  • tactile knowing
  • the hand

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