1.1 Background of the study
The importance of the Construction Industry to national economies the world over cannot be over emphasized. According to Mike et al (2011), by 2020 construction will account for 13.2% of world GDP indicating an upward trend. This is seen in the provision of basic infrastructure such as road networks, commercial and residential buildings and facilities to the other sectors of economies. Also construction’s sizeable amount of economic growth is through backward and forward linkages since construction activities utilise goods and services from other industries. Despite the documented positive gains brought by the construction industry, there are negative attributes which are associated with construction work. Construction work is dangerous, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates at least 60,000 fatal accidents a year on construction sites around the world that is one in six of all fatal work related accidents. The Global Trade Union Federation puts the figure much higher at 108,000 with construction responsible for 30% of all work related accidents. The International Labour Organization (ILO) in an effort to improve and maintain safe working environment at work places has held general conferences through the years since 1937 deciding and adopting conventions and recommendations geared towards health and safety in construction works. One such is convention C167 cited as the Safety and Health in Construction Convention, 1988 which revised and adopted the Safety Provisions (Building) Convention of 1937. This Convention carries provisions which apply to all construction activities. Accordingly, each Member Country which ratifies this convention undertakes that it will, on the basis of an assessment of the safety and health hazards involved, adopt and maintain in force laws or regulations which ensure the application of the provisions of the Convention through technical standards or codes of practice, or by other appropriate methods consistent with national conditions and practice. Articles 8 and 10 of the convention require that the principal contractor, or other person or body with actual control over or primary responsibility for overall construction site activities shall be responsible for coordinating the prescribed safety and health measures and, in so far as is compatible with national laws and regulations, for ensuring compliance with such measures. Further, the national laws or regulations shall provide that workers shall have the right and the duty at any work place to participate in ensuring safe working conditions to the extent of their control over the equipment and methods of work and to express views on the working procedures adopted as they may affect safety and health and comply with the prescribed safety and health measures. Generally, the convention outlines the preventive and protective measures to the effect that appropriate precautions shall be taken to ensure that all workplaces are safe and without risk of injury to the safety and health of workers. Emphasis is also made in so far as information and training is concerned to the effect that workers shall be adequately and suitably informed of potential safety and health hazards to which they may be exposed at their work place and instructed and trained in the measures available for the prevention and control of, and protection against, those hazards. Reporting of accidents and diseases is important, hence national laws or regulations shall provide for the reporting to the competent authority within a prescribed time of occupational accidents and diseases. On implementation the convention directs that each member shall take all necessary measures, including the provision of appropriate penalties and corrective measures, to ensure the effective enforcement of the provisions of the Convention and provide appropriate inspection services to supervise the application of the measures to be taken in pursuance of the Convention and provide these with the resources necessary for the accomplishment of their task, or satisfy itself that appropriate inspection is carried out (Safety and Health Convention in Construction, 1988).
1.2 Statement of the problem
In 2015, B;S Mcheken contractors made a commitment to improve its safety, health and environmental management by getting certified to ISO 14001 0f 2004 and OSHAS 18001 of 2007. Four years down the line, the company is still to do Initial Document Evaluation (IDE) by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), which is the standards governing body. The systems documents which done and completed three years ago are still being shelved and no implementation of the systems have taken place to date.
The suffering caused by accidents and illnesses to workers, their families and the public is incalculable. In economic terms, it is estimated that 4% of the world’s annual GDP is lost as a consequence of occupational diseases and accidents (ILO, 2009). The employer face costly early retirements, loss of skilled staff, absenteeism, and high insurance premiums due to work– related accidents and diseases. The cost associated with work related injuries, workers compensation, insurance premium, indirect costs of injuries, and litigation at B&S Mcheken Contractors in 2017 was $73 000, which must be a considerable proportion of the company’s annual budget considering it is a small to medium enterprise usually working on tight budgets.
Every year, a considerable amount of time is lost due to work related health issues and site accidents. From the result of accident investigations for the past five years on the causes of construction accidents and incidents, it was shown that 39.9% of site accidents at the organisation were caused by falls, 8.4% were struck by objects, 1.4% were caught in between incidents, and 8.5% were electrical shock. These accidents diminish the image of the company, and as a result there is shortage of skilled labour. The most disturbing issue is, even as thete are obvious OSH issues facing the company, no capex budget allocation is made available to to proactively address and contain the situation and promote improved occupational health and safety practices. It is with such concern that this study attempted to examine the factors affecting implementation of occupational health and safety measures in at B;S Mcheken Contractors’ construction sites.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study was to examine the barriers to effective implementation of good OSH management practices or measures at the company construction sites in Zimbabwe.
1.4 Objectives of the study.
The general objective of the study was to assess the level of Health and Safety Management practices of selected at B&S Mcheken Contractors in Zimbabwe.
In relation to B&S Mcheken construction sites in Zimbabwe, the specific objectives of the study were:
1) To determine the current occupational health and safety practices of the company
2) To identify the barriers to the operation of good Occupational Health and Safety Management at B&S Mcheken Contractors construction sites
3) To identify the Occupational health and safety practice related problems at the company
4) To identify the strategies to reduce the safety practice related problems.
1.5 Basic assumptions of the study
The basic assumption of the study was that the respondents would appreciate the purpose of the research exercise and that they would be accessible and corporative in answering the questions.
1.6 Significance of the study
This research work on completion will be significant to both academia and the industrial sector
as a whole. It will increase the body of knowledge and literature on the Occupational Health and Safety in the construction industry. The findings of this study will help bring to the attention of the stakeholders in the construction industry the importance of occupational health and safety culture in work places. The study also brings to light the fact that clients in a project contribute significantly towards the implementation of occupational health and safety measures in their building projects when such requirements are included the tender documents. Recommendations made at the end of this research will enable policy makers and management in the construction sector address issues that relate to Occupational Health and Safety Management in construction industry in general.
1.7 Limitations of the study
The scope of the study was rather narrow, focusing only on one company in a town with a lot of other contractors. The time frame for the research was just to three months. The research could have been more comprehensive and conclusive had the time frame for the study been longer and wider in scope. The prevailing economic conditions at the time of study was also not the best business environment and it could have had a lot of bearing on the operations of the company, promoting a lot of cost cutting and cutting corners by the company. Under a different economic operational environment, a similar research could possibly produce a different outcome. The research team was small in size and a larger team could have produced a different result.
1.8 Challenges faced
The researcher encountered a number of challenges in the process of carrying out the study. The spread of respondents identified in the sample in and outside Harare presented access problems in terms of transport and communication. This was overcome by use of e-mail communication as much as was practicable. The costs involved in transport, stationary, communication, typing, photo copying and binding were fairly high. This necessitated borrowing of financial and material resources to meet the cost and the deadline. Time frame for the preparation of the research proposal document was squeezed hence proper time management was essential in order to meet the set time target.
1.9 Delimitations of the study
Though the study was aimed at examining the barriers to good occupational health and safety (OSH) practices by small construction firms, the researcher narrowed it down and focused on the operations of B&S Mcheken Contractors.
1.10 Definition of the significant terms used in the study
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease. This includes: The promotion and maintenance of physical, mental and social well being of workers, Prevention among workers of ill-health caused by the working conditions, Protection of workers in their employment from risk resulting from factors adverse to health, Placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physical and psychological equipment.
Safety is identifying, evaluating and controlling workplace hazards and includes measures, methods or techniques or process to prevent human exposure to unsafe work practices, physical or even chemical agents. This may involve: Improving working conditions and safe methods of work, Reasonable hours of work, Provision of personnel protective equipment, Provision of first-aid and medical facilities.
Welfare is the provision of facilities to maintain the health and well-being of individuals at the workplace.
Accident is an unexpected, unwanted occurrence which interrupts or interferes with the orderly progress of work in an establishment by causing bodily injury to a person making him unfit to resume duty due to partial or total disablement or even death. It can also cause damage or loss to property, plant, materials or the environment.
Near miss is any incident that could have resulted in an accident. Research has shown that, approximately, for every ten ‘near miss’ events at a particular location in the workplace, a minor accident will occur.
Hazards is a potential condition which might be converted into an accident. It is a state having potential to injure a person or impair ones health. 9 Risk is the likelihood of a substance, activity or process to cause harm.
1.11 Organisational Background
B&S Mcheken Contractors was formed and register with the registrer of companies of Zimpambwe in 2010. The company has has three directors. The organisation is a member or an affiliate of two governing bodies, the Zimbabwe Buiding Contractors Association (ZBA) and the CIfoZ. As required by the law, the factories and works Act, the organisation registered with the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).
The company progressed from class E of the CIFoZ from its inception to class B to the present day. Its permanent staff has remained pretty much the same over the years in terms of its size though the labour turn over is generally high at the organisation. Most of the employees are hired on contract bases when the company gets a contract or a project to do. Over the years, the company has done a number of projects, civil and structural in nature, in and outside Harare. Mostly, the organisation engages in earth works, building, road construction, plumping, tilling and water reticulation, structural works and design, paving, electrical installations, water proofing and carpentry activities.
Since its inception, the company has executed over 60 projects of various sizes, and nature around the country.
1.12 Company organogram
B&S MCHEKEN CONTRACTORS ORGANOGRAM
1.13 Organisation of the study
This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one outlines the background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, objectives of the study delimitations of the study and the organization of the study. Chapter two outlines the relevant theories of the literature review in line with the objectives of the study. Chapter three gives the research design, the target population, sampling procedure and the sample size, data collection methods, the validity and reliability of data collection instruments and the operational definition of variables. Chapter four is about how the data collected was analyzed, interpreted and presented in line with the objectives of the study. Chapter five gives the summary of the findings, discussions, conclusions, recommendations and suggested areas of further research.
In this chapter the researcher emphasizes the importance of health and safety measures in the construction industry in the context of B&S Mcheken Contractors operations. It also focuses on the need to understand the factors affecting effective implementation of health and safety measures and procedures so that appropriate actions may be instituted to make improvements in this area and safeguard the welfare of construction personnel.
Occupational health and safety (OHS) refers to the complete physical, mental and social well-being within a workplace (Safe at Work, n.d.). The highly-transient and dynamic nature of the construction industry poses challenges to the effective management of OHS risk (Lingard, & Holmes, 2001). Existing research has shown that the high rate of injury in the construction industry is primarily due to inadequate or non-existent OHS programs, practices or systems (Lin & Mills, 2001).
The issue most affecting good OHS practice is cost. Purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) and employing safety staff incur additional project costs (Kelloway & Cooper, 2011). The financial fragility and instability of small businesses can impede the extent to which the good OHS practices can be adopted (Pinto et al., 2011). Because of the size of SMEs, the resources and facilities to enable safe construction are not readily available (Choi et al., 2012; Kelloway & Cooper, 2011). In addition, the emphasis of small businesses on safety is proportional to the size of the company or the scale of the project (Kartam et al., 2000). Business survival is the top priority for these companies, while safety and health issues often have lower priorities because of limited resources (Hon et al., 2012). The financial benefits of OHS investment are not obvious in the short term, making it less attractive for small construction businesses (Champoux & Brun, 2003). Furthermore, the practices of competitive tendering and award of most public sector contracts to the lowest bidder in Zimbabwe compel contractors to drive their prices low, while cutting costs, which, in turn, affects health and safety considerations (Choi et al., 2012; Kartam et al., 2000). Price cutting pressures are usually passed down to subcontractors (Smith-Jackson et al., 2011), causing many recurring quality and safety problems (Chiang, 2009; Lingard & Rowlinson, 1997). Tight project deadlines provide another barrier to effective OHS management. The industry strives to complete projects on time and neglects safety (Lazarevic and Perry, 2004; Silva & Wimalaratne, 2012).
The problem of time pressures for safety is worsened due to poor design details, planning inadequacies or misjudgments, the suspension of work due to inclement weather, and errors in delivery dates and times (Conchie et al., 2013; Dawson et al., 1988; Zhou et al., 2011). Subcontracting is typically a payment-by results system where payment is based on the amount of work completed rather than the period of time spent on the worksite. Thus returns are enhanced by the completion of tasks in the shortest possible time, leading to subcontractors pushing themselves hard, working excessive hours, or cutting comers in regard to safety (Mayhew et al., 1997; William & Geller, 2000). Long working hours increase fatigue, result in poor concentration and decision making, and thus exacerbating the risk of injury (Haslam et al., 2005). Due to the cost and time pressure of projects, there is a lack of OHS training and education, which significantly increases occupational risk (Kelloway & Cooper, 2011). A training program helps the personnel to carry out various preventative activities and establish a positive attitude towards safety (Seppala, 1995), but where deadlines are tight, OSH training and education is not given. Training and induction procedures are often poorly structured in those organisations that experience poor safety performance (National Occupational Health & Safety Commission, 1999).
Lack of safety awareness and concern is also a problem affecting OHS performance. There is a positive relationship between the intensity level of safety management commitment and overall safety performance (Fang et al., 2004; Glendon & Litherland, 2001; Tam & Fung, 1998). However, the highly transient nature of the subcontracting workforce complicates the nature of employment relationships and causes ambiguity in the responsibility for maintaining OHS (Loughborough University of Technology & UMIST, 2003). Small businesses do not feel the need to focus on OHS in their management practices. Instead, they often believe that risk control is the responsibility of employees (Lin & Mills, 2001). The ambiguity of OHS commitment may also lead to errors in decision-making, breakdowns in communication, or inconsistent decisions and practices, which consequently results in increasing health and safety issues on construction sites (Mayhew et al., 1997). The high mobility of subcontracted labour reduces the familiarity of workers with the site working environment and the associated potential hazards. It creates difficulties for them to follow the client’s stipulated safety management program (McDonald et al., 2009) and to recognize and avoid risks at the workplace (Biggs et al., 2005). Wrong perceptions or underestimation of risks often places individuals in unsafe environments. Some of the workers are overconfident about their past work experiences or safety record, contributing to the belief that they do not need safety training (Hung et al., 2013). These misperceptions and reluctance to take advice reduces the efficiency of safety training (ECOTEC, 2005). Some business owners tend to underestimate and even trivialise risk and implementation of safety measures (Campoux and Brun, 2003). They believe risk is an inherent part of the work activity and that their employees are not in any significant danger because problems hardly ever occur (Campoux and Brun, 2003; Pinqing et al., 2006). Therefore, to achieve an excellent safety performance, emphasis should be made on the risk perceptions of both employers and employees as this affects risk behaviour and the probability of accidents and health injuries (Rundmo, 2000; Mohamed et al., 2009; Caponecchia ; Sheils, 2011). The onerousness and variability of legislative enforcement within the individual disparate OHS jurisdictions can hinder the effectiveness of OHS practice (Charles et al., 2007). In Zimbabwe, for example, occupational health and safety laws that are applicable to all employers and employees across sectors are enshrined within the Labour Act, Chapter 28.01, and the National Social Security Authority’s Accident Prevention Workers Compensation Scheme (APWCS) Notice No. 68 of 1990. Occupational health and safety management in Zimbabwe is pursued through the International Labour Organization’s Zimbabwe Office, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, the National Social Security Authority, and the Zimbabwe Occupational Health and Safety Council (ZOSHC), which comprises government, employers and labour unions, creating uncertainty in terms of compliance (Biggs et al., 2005). The difficulties are further heightened by a lack of national uniformity in construction-related OHS regulations, in addition to the different regulatory influences of government which cause confusion and controversy for different industry groups (CRC Construction Innovation, 2007).
Existing research on OHS in the construction industry mainly focuses on large firms. Only a limited number of studies have been made of small businesses and their OHS practices. Most literature discusses the importance and practical ways for effective OHS management, but the means of adopting these procedures and solutions in the context of small construction companies remains a practical problem. The different backgrounds of various countries, regions and organizations can impact on OHS enforcement; therefore they also need to be taken into account when relevant OHS issues are investigated. This research explores the OHS problems of small construction firms in Zimbabwe with particular reference to B;S Mcheken Contactors. The factors that hinder good OHS practice by small construction businesses are determined to enable the development of strategic solutions for improvement of the current OHS situation.
The literature review attempts to highlight the common risks and hazards that construction workers encounter in their day to day job activities in the building construction sites. It also focuses on the need to understand the factors affecting effective implementation of health and safety measures and procedures so that appropriate actions may be instituted to make improvements in this area and safeguard the welfare of construction personnel.
2.2 Common risks and dangers in the construction sites.
Speaking during the World day of safety and health commemorations on the 5th of May 2017, the Bulawayo Minister of State bemoaned the increase in the number of occupational accidents that claim lives and lead to fatal injuries. She said, ‘safe work is about preventive measures’, emphasizing the fact that construction site accidents are preventable if adequate safety measures are put in place (The Chronicle, 08 May 2017)). She added that putting in place systems to propagate safety and health practices in construction industry and reliance on detailed planning, rigorous implementation of systems, procedures and training and effective monitoring would greatly assist in reducing accidents in construction sites. Here below are some of the common hazards facing construction site personnel in the course of the duties (ILO code of practice, 1992).
Manual and mechanical handling hazards – Manual handling of loads makes a great contribution to body injury accidents. Back injuries due to the lifting of heavy loads are very common and many working days are lost each year as a result of such injuries. This happens in every building site in Kenya where workers can be seen carrying bricks, bags of cement or sand and aggregates around the site or to different levels up the building on their backs or heads. Common injuries associated with poor manual handling techniques are musculoskeletal in nature and include muscular sprains and strains, back injuries, trapped nerve, hernia, cuts, bruises and abrasions, fractures, work-related upper limb disorders and rheumatism (severe pain in the joints). Mechanical handling equipment in construction sites include excavators, cranes and dumper trucks and cause hazards such as, hand trapped between rotating rollers and belts, loose cloth entanglement with power drive, overturning and collisions. (ILO code of practice, 1992)
Work equipment hazards – This involves the use of hand tools such as hammers, chisels and shovels. Power tools such as pneumatic drills, electric drills, disc-cutters, sanders, nail guns and chainsaws. Hazards posed by the use of these tools include eye puncturing, cuts, crushing, shearing and entanglement hazards, electric shocks, burns from hot parts of the engine, high noise levels, tripping on cables, fire and explosion hazards, hand-arm vibrations hazards and electrocution. (ILO code of practice, 1992).
Electrical hazards – Electricity is a widely used source of energy, but its use has the potential to be very hazardous with possible fatal results. Electric shock can result in severe electrical burns, and permanent disability. Electricity can also result in electrocution. Other hazards include electric arcing, electrical fires and explosions most resulting from misuse of equipment or using defective or unsuitable equipment. (ILO code of practice, 1992).
Fire hazards – Fires, though not as common but do occur in construction sites creating damages and resulting in complete dislocation of building project schedules and delays. Common causes of fires in construction sites are poor storage of highly flammable gases and other materials, damaged cables and improper fuses or failure of safety devices, overload or poorly maintained temporary electrical equipment, accumulation of rubbish against electrical equipment and discarding of smoking materials. Fire consequences include personal injuries, death and damage to materials and buildings. (ILO code of practice, 1992)
Chemical and biological health hazards – Each year many people suffer ill-health caused by the work place than they suffer workplace injuries, but this receives less attention from management because of the difficult in linking the ill-health effect with workplace causes (Hughes ; Ferret, 2008). Construction activities generate dust, fumes, gases, mist, vapours and liquids which cause ill-heath to workers when in contact by inhalation, absorption through skin or ingestion. Cement dust and wet cement contact can cause dermatitis or serious burns and ulcers. Silica dust from cutting or drilling building blocks when inhaled can lead to development of tuberculosis. Lead metal hazards commonly associated with plumbing and roof works when inhaled or in contact with skin will result in headaches, nausea, anaemia, muscle weakening and eventually coma. Asbestos dust from building materials such as roof sheets or ceiling tiles, when inhaled will damage the linings of the lungs and might lead to lung cancer. Wood dust can result to skin disorders, nasal problems and asthma. Tetanus can result from infected objects such as nails, wood splinters and will attack the nervous system.
Biological agents such as algae, bacteria and viruses from contaminated water and food will lead to ill-health such as asthma, hepatitis, influenza, HIV (AIDS) among others. (ILO code of practice, 1992).
Physical and psychological health hazards – These include the manual handling and lifting of loads, pulling and pushing loads, prolonged periods of repetitive activities, working in poorly lit environment and work with vibrating tools which result in musculoskeletal disorders such as back injuries, upper limb disorders and deteriorating eye sight. Noisy working place can lead to ear damage. Excess heat and radiation as happens in most building sites, might cause heat exhaustion and heat stress/ stroke. Most activities in construction sites are done under a lot of pressure to meet delivery deadlines, this workplace stress will likely lead to both physical and mental ill-health such as high blood pressure, peptic ulcers, skin disorders, depression and even violence. Physically demanding work leads to physical fatigue, decreased productivity and motivation, inattentiveness, poor judgment, poor quality work, job dissatisfaction, accidents and injuries (Tariqs, 2003).
The effects of alcohol and drugs cannot be overlooked, abuse of these substances damages health and causes absenteeism and reduces productivity and lead to serious accidents in construction sites particularly when driving, working at heights or handling power tools. (ILO code of practice, 1992)
Working at heights hazards – According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) UK, working at heights accounts for 50-60 deaths more than any other workplace activity each year in the UK. Most construction activities involve working at some height such as, brick laying, plastering concrete repairs, roofing works, painting and decorating, window cleaning, demolitions etc. The immediate hazard of working at heights is a fall which can result in fractures, serious body injuries or even death. There is always the risk of falling objects such as unsecure loads, unsecured equipment or materials which can seriously injure construction workers and members of the public. (ILO code of practice, 1992)
Excavation work and confined spaces hazards – Excavation work is an essential part of construction work involving building foundations, installation of drainages, sewerage and other services requiring trenches to be excavated, but it is one of the most hazardous since excavation walls can collapse, people vehicles or materials may fall into the trenches and worse still contact with buried electrical cables, water or fuel service pipes. Excavation work adjacent to existing structures can easily cause their collapse. All these can result in injuries and or fatalities.
Work in confined spaces such as manholes, sewers, tunnels, pits and ducts poses a threat because of the possibilities of accumulation of vapour, gases or fumes and the lack of ventilation and may result to asphyxiation due oxygen depletion, poisoning by toxic substances or fumes, explosion due to gases, vapour or dust, excess heat leading to heat stress and worse still diseases from animal wastes, infected materials or macro-organisms. (ILO code of practice, 1992)
Demolition hazards – Demolition is one of the most hazardous construction operations and one responsible for more deaths and major injuries than any other activity. (Hughes ; Ferret 2008). Demolitions should therefore be well planned and supervised by competent persons in order to minimize the risks of death and injury to employees and others who might be affected by the work.
Premature collapse of the structures is one of the main causes of serious injury resulting from demolition works. There is a danger of falling from height through fragile roofing material, open voids such as roof lights or from open edges of elevated platforms or scaffolding. There is also the hazard of being hit, trapped or struck by falling debris or failed structural member. During demolitions process dust and fumes is a considerable hazard which should be controlled to minimize the associated dangers. Noise and vibrations are a serious problem during demolitions because of falling debris and equipment such as compressors, drills and hand-held tools. Existence of services such as electricity, gas and water pose dangers of electric shock, fires and explosions. (ILO code of practice, 1992)
2.3 Issues of Health and Safety at construction sites.
The issues of health and safety at construction sites concern factors which if put in place in a working environment will have an impact in improving the levels of health and safety of the working personnel.
2.3.1 Occupational Health and Safety Management Practices
Construction like any other business success requires effective health and safety management to provide a sound basis for good performance. Good and effective health and safety management practices will be guided by the following principles, according to Hughes ; Ferret, (2008).
2.3.2 Health and Safety policy.
This involves developing, monitoring and reviewing standards needed to address and reduce the risks to health and safety produced by the organization. The policy should state the intentions of the organisation in terms of clear aims, objectives and targets. There should be a health and safety policy statement, in simple language and prominently displayed throughout the workplace. It should be dated and signed by senior officials to demonstrate management commitment to health and safety at the same time giving authority to the policy. Every individual must be clear about his responsibilities and limits. Directors will set policy objectives and targets, supervisors to check day to day compliance, safety advisors to lead accident investigations and compliance, safety representatives to represent employees in consultations, employees to observe health and safety of self and others, while first aiders help the injured.
Effective OSH management involves planning and implementation of performance standards, targets and procedures. The plan should be based on risk assessment methods to decide on priorities and set objectives for effective control and elimination of hazards and the reduction of risks. According to Drucker (2003), to gauge the effectiveness of health and safety management, achievements are measured against practice plans and performance targets. Ultimately, the main purpose of measuring performance is to provide information on the progress and the current status in terms of OSH strategies, processes and controls. Active monitoring looks at the premises, plant, the people, procedures and practices, while reactive monitoring investigates accidents and incidents and why controls failed. It is important that the organisation is measured against its long term goals and objectives. Accidents should be properly investigated, recorded and reported since most accidents involve multiple, interrelated causal factors occurring whenever significant deficiencies, oversights, errors, omissions, or unexpected changes occur. This helps prevent more serious events and enable appropriate actions to prevent recurrence. Good investigation is key in making improvements in health and safety performance. According to the Frank Bird’s Accident Ratio, for every 600 near misses, there approximately are 30 property damages, 10 minor injuries and one serious accident or a fatality. It is imperative; therefore that accidents, incidents and near misses should be recorded and reported to relevant authorities.
Performance reviews are part of the organization’s commitment to continuous improvement of the health and safety policy, since reviews enable evaluation of the performance against the objectives and targets established allowing for any necessary changes to improve standards. Auditing becomes an important tool to assess compliance with the health and safety management arrangements and procedures in the workplace since it helps brings out weaknesses and identify unrealistic or inadequate standards and targets in the health and safety policy and procedures and ensures that what has been planned is being implemented. According to Cole (2000), every employer with more than five employees is required to prepare and keep an up to date written statement of the safety policy drawn to the attention of all employees. This reflects the employer’s commitment to safety and healthy at work. The policy should indicate what standards of behaviuor are aimed at in Health and Safety. Armstrong (2000) suggests work places should have occupational Health and Safety programs to deal with ill health arising from the working conditions which he says should include: Conducting of risk assessments which identify hazards and assess the risks attached to them, Carrying out of Health and Safety audits and inspections, Implementation of Health and Safety audits and inspections, Management of stress, Prevention of accidents, Measuring Health and Safety performance, Communicating the need for good Health and Safety practices, Training in good Health and Safety practices and Organizing Health and Safety. The role of the management in the Health and Safety issues is stressed by Betts (1983) who emphasized that management should: Issue a written statement of safety policy, Establish an organisation and allocate responsibilities for health and safety matters, Train members of the company in health and safety matters, Establish a safety committee, Ensure first aid facilities exist, Provide appropriate procedures and documents to minimize accidents, Consult with safety representatives with a view to making and maintaining arrangement which promote and develop measure for safety and health of employees and checking the effectiveness of such measures.
2.3.3 Training and inductions at workplace
According to Armstrong (2000), safety training spells out the rules and provides information on potential hazards and how to avoid them. It is part of a preventive program done through: Induction course; Transfer to new job or change in working methods; Refresher course and training should be provided to deal with aspects of health and safety to employees. Betts (1983) argues that lack of experience and poor trainings are the main causes of accidents at work. Training and inductions in construction site workplace helps inculcate in employees a positive health and safety culture. Preventive training and induction procedures in the workplace environment are important tools in preventing accidents at work. All new employees should receive a full induction as soon as possible after starting a new site so that they are made aware of potential hazards and given instruction on how to avoid the possible risks. Construction sites pose a large variety of risks, making the possibility of an accident quite high due to, changes in job responsibilities, the introduction of new work equipment, introduction of a new system of work, or even the employment of more vulnerable persons such as young and disabled. Working with dangerous equipment, working around hazardous and unstable materials or simply putting your body through demanding work and strain could lead to a construction accident (Hughes & Ferret 2008). It is the duty of the employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all persons in the workplace, this involves the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure that health and safety at work of every person employed. Every employee should be made aware of any risks from new technologies, 18 imminent danger and ensuring that every person employed participates in the application and review of health and safety measures. Management commitment gives a powerful message to the workforce by what they do for health and safety. They should personally get involved in health and safety inspections and audits, health and safety consultation meetings and also in the investigation of accidents, ill-health and incidents. Supervisory and management training will play a pivotal role in avoiding common managerial failures such as, lack of health and safety awareness, enforcement and promotion, lack of supervision and communication with employees and lack of understanding of the extent of the responsibility of the supervisor. Some activities in a construction site require specialist training such as first aid, fire prevention, folklift truck driving, overhead crane operation, scaffolding inspection and statutory health and safety inspections. Job specific training ensures that employees undertake their jobs in a safe manner. Skill training can be conducted ‘on the job’ or ‘toolbox training’ to cover issues like emergency procedures, correct use of protective personal equipment (PPE) and work activities which are more hazardous. Health and safety training includes training on personal protective equipment, emergency preparedness and documentation of accident courses. (Bhat, 1998) Induction training therefore should always be provided to new employees to enhance their awareness regarding health and safety policy of the organization, employee responsibility for health and safety, the accident reporting procedures of the organization, the fire and other emergency procedures and a brief summary of the health and safety management system in the organization. An important aspect to be brought to the awareness of the employees is published disciplinary procedures such that a particularly serious accident is followed by some disciplinary action or a penalty. In his article, ‘Dirty Construction Workers’, Langford (2003), brings out the negative stereotypical attitudes associated with the building industry that construction workers are characterized by images of dirt, unsafe working practices, macho and sexist behavior and unsatisfactory workmanship. He further concludes that, such perceptions are known to have damaged the image of the construction industry and may have lead to large sections of the construction workforce being stigmatized and hence carry out their tasks with a 19 carefree attitude. This therefore underlines the importance of training and inductions in construction site activities. 2.3.3 Risk control measures According to Burchill (1997), a number of regulations on management of health and safety at work came into force in 1993 requiring employees to undertake risk assessment exercise intended to identify potential dangers to the health and safety of employees or anyone likely to be affected by the firms operations. Health and safety 1992 requires the management of the firm to: Devise and implement specific procedures for dealing with emergencies, Train employees in safety matters and ensure they are capable of avoiding risks, Take into account working conditions and local work place hazards when selecting equipment, Identify and avoid risks in relation to handling operations, having regard to the shape, size and weight of load and ergonomic conditions in work place and humidity available etc. Armstrong (2000), adds that risk assessment identify specific hazards and quantify the risks attached to them, while health and safety audit provide more comprehensive review of all aspects of health and safety policies and procedures and practices for the whole organization or department. Risk assessment therefore evaluate and predict risks in qualitative and quantitative terms and are focused on predicting the probability of effects on health of human and environmental resources. This therefore aims at: Hazard elimination through design improvement and change of production; Substitution through replacement of chemicals; Use of barriers; Use of warning systems like signs, labels, instructions etc; Use of personal protective clothing etc. While health and safety audits should focus on use of: Policies; Procedures; and Safety practices so as to generate action by assessing the practices and costs and draw up action programs. Safety is, without doubt, the most crucial investment we can make. And the question is not what it costs us, but what it saves, MacKee (2009). Many building contractors like any business are profit oriented and would go to any lengths to maximize their profits even if it means avoiding health and safety control measures in order to cut costs, all at the expense of exposing the workers to workplace hazards. The control of risks is essential to secure and maintain a healthy and safe construction site and should comply with the relevant legal requirements. Safety is controlled through a combination of engineered measures (Hughes & Ferret, 2008), which include, avoidance of risks, elimination of hazards or substitution for something less hazardous, reducing or limiting the duration of exposure to the hazard, isolation or segregation, safe systems of work, training and information, personal protective equipment, welfare and monitoring and supervision. For a sound and effective health and safety management system, financial resources need to be set aside to ensure implementation of the measures and procedures to guarantee employee’s safety. Costs will be incurred in a number of ways in the process of establishing and putting in place health and safety measures. Employment of additional personnel such as a health and safety officer will be necessary to advice on various aspects concerning safety, including formulating a health and safety policy with clear aims and objectives, safe measures of work and method statements, risk assessments, accident investigations, accident reporting and health and safety performance monitoring, reviews and audits. A person with first aid competence employed in a construction site to deal with cases of accidents, injuries and emergencies and equipped with the necessary facilities to carry out his tasks effectively. Training and inductions which are aimed at helping people acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes to make them competent in the health and safety aspects of their work in order to avoid or eliminate hazards at work, need management support in terms time and financial resources during planning and conducting. All workplaces need to display safety signs and signals in cases where a risk has not been controlled by other means. Signs should be placed where they are clearly visible and cause minimum inconveniences, they should carry the correct warning symbol where appropriate, they should be relevant to the hazard, they should be easily understood, they are used when required, they should be clean durable and weatherproof where necessary and they should be obeyed to be effective. Such safety signs may include prohibitive signs to indicate that a certain behavior is prohibited such a no smoking sign. A warning sign will denote a safety sign that gives warning of a hazard such as danger of falling objects. A mandatory sign can denote a symbol indicating that a specific course of action must be taken such as ‘safety helmets must be worn’. There can be a safe condition sign indicating availability of information about safe condition. A fire equipment sign will indicate the location of firefighting equipment. All these sings and symbol are standardized through legislation for purpose of easy understanding and are therefore procured at a cost. The provision of temporary protective works such as scaffolds and hoarding is important. Personal protective equipment (PPE), are means of accident prevention and must be applied if work conditions demand. These include head protection items such as hard hats and helmets. Eye and face protection such as goggles. Foot and leg protection include safety shoes and boots. Hand and arm protection devises include gloves, hand guards, hand pads, sleeves and cuffs. Body protection needs aprons, overalls jackets and complete head to toe protective suits. Ear muffs will be required in noisy operations while masks are a must in dusty activities. The provision of these devises will require financial resources by the management. (Pratibha ; Anupama, 2007) The provision of welfare facilities in a construction site such as safe drinking water, food and sometimes accommodation is within the workers entitlements though costly in most cases. Such costs can be borne by the project’s client depending on the nature of the agreement and the contract conditions, though not in all cases. According to Amarjit S., (1999), research revealed that where safety costs are included in a contact tender document and accepted by the client, the frequency of accidents involving loss of time is considerably reduced. 2.3.4 Project’s client influence on health and safety issues in a project. A client in a building project being the ultimate beneficiary of the construction process should be in the forefront in making sure that health and safety matters are observed by the contractor on site, but unfortunately that is not always the case in Zimbabwe construction industry. For the private individual clientele their concern is to get a good product and of course at a good bargain. This is often the case in open competitive tender, where contractors keep their costs down in order to win a tender, but unfortunately the winning tender might be one that does not provide safety, equipment and a safe working environment.
The scenario changes in cases where the project client is a corporate company who in most cases makes it their concern that laws and regulations pertaining to the construction process are followed by the book, and as such any building contractor prospecting for a job should show evidence of adherence to such regulations to avoid accidents and legal claims. Since the onus of maintaining health and safety in a construction site lies with the building contractor by the fact that they are in direct contact with the workers on site, the project client has a duty put forth conditions regarding the health and safety of workers on site during the procurement process.
The client may ensure the appointed contractor has a sound understanding of health and safety requirements, knowledge of national regulations and a commitment to continuous improvement which can be evidenced by a health and safety policy signed by the management, a full time qualified health and safety officer, and a health and safety management system or practice. Monitoring and reporting during the course of a project can be used to help raise the profile of health and safety by ensuring compliance with contract procedures. The reporting chain involves subcontractor to main contractor, to consulting engineer to the client. Thus it is important that all parties to the contract work together to monitor compliance even though the prime responsibility for managing activities and people on construction site rests with the main contractor.
2.2.4 Site Layout and Planning
A badly planned and untidy site is the underlying cause of many accidents. This results from falls of material and collisions between workers and plant or equipment. Space constraints, particularly in urban work sites, are nearly always the biggest limiting factor and a layout which caters best for the safety and health of workers may appear to be difficult to reconcile with productivity. Proper planning by management is an essential part of preparation and budgeting for the safe and efficient running of a construction operation. There are many accidents due to tripping, slipping or falling over materials and equipment which have been left lying around, and stepping on nails which have been left projecting from timber.
2.2.5 Personal Protective Clothing (PPE)
Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles , or other garment or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury by blunt impacts, electrical hazards, heat, chemicals, and infection, for job-related occupational health and safety purposes. OSHA (2007) requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels.
2.2.6 Safety Policy
The company provides their own safety policy for the works on site. The contents of the safety policy will be formed by the SHE officer and the projects manager. The contents of this company’s safety policy are emphasised on the responsibilities of all the key players in order to prevent accidents from happening. The objective of this company is to achieve injury and incident-free workplace. Additionally, they have an arrangement to review the safety policy every 2 years. As for now, this company is under process of upgrading the safety policy. The policy is displayed on the safety notice board, which is put up at the main entrance of the construction site, thus making it visible to all workers. The safety policy is important in order to emphasize the aim of the organisation in relation to safety matters. All the workers on site are aware of the safety policy and carry out their works according to the safety policy.
3.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
In this chapter the researcher explains the procedures employed in carrying out the study, which include; the research design, the target population, the sample size and the sampling procedure, research instruments and their validity and reliability, data collection techniques, ethical considerations and the operational definition of the variables.
3.2 Research design
The research design adopted was a descriptive survey study in an attempt to explain the factors affecting implementation of occupational health and safety measures at B;S Mcheken Contractors. Descriptive survey study was used because it was best suited to answer the ‘what’ and ‘how’ research questions in the study.
3.3 Target population
The targeted population in this study was the B;S Mcheken Contractors employees especially the site crew at various construction sites in and outside Harare. The researcher established the population to be two hundred and fifty (250) from four construction sites.
3.4 Sample size and Sampling procedure
One hundred and twenty five (125) subjects formed an ideal sample size for the study, this followed the recommendations of Nkapa, (1997) that, for a population running into hundreds, the sample size should be 50%.
A structured questionnaire survey was carried out of company. This was used to elicit information concerning their opinions on the variables identified from the literature review, in order to confirm the barriers to good OHS practice and their interrelationships. The targeted respondents were managers and relevant professional employees of the small construction firm, such as quantity surveyors, architects, engineers and project managers. The questionnaire comprises four sections. The first section requests the respondent’s details and background information. The second section collects information concerning the company of the respondent such as the type of projects involved, company size, implementation and performance of OHS practices. The third section forms the main body of the instrument. This section aims to obtain the opinions of respondents on the various barriers to good OHS practice. Respondents are required to indicate the degree of agreement towards each barrier variable on a scale of:
Strongly Disagree-1;Disagree-2; Neutral-3; Agree-4; Strongly Agree-5.
The final part of the survey includes open ended question that gathered respondent’s opinions on other types of barriers to good OHS practice as well as their suggestions for overcoming these barriers. Before the questionnaire survey was distributed, a pilot study was conducted with three professional experts with more than 10 years of experience in the construction industry. Amendments were made to the questionnaire according to the feedback and suggestions received. The final questionnaire was distributed to 250 respondents. A total of 52 responses were received, representing a response rate of 20.8%.
Any mean, median or mode score over 3.0 is considered as an agreement of some magnitude. The analysis results are discussed in the following section.
3.5 Validity and Reliability of data collection instruments
Validity and reliability of data collection instruments is essentially to minimize bias in the study findings.
3.5.1 Reliability of data collection instruments
Reliability of data collection instruments refers to the accuracy and precision of the measuring procedures. In order to ensure reliability of the data collection instruments, the researcher carried a out pre test by randomly selecting a few building construction firms 10 in number, administered the questionnaire and observed the response to note if the questions were understood, and if the answers given were relevant to the study. Observed weaknesses in the data collection instrument were and noted corrections made.
3.5.2 Validity of the data collection instruments
This refers to the relevance of the data collection instruments in relation to the anticipated outcome of the study. To ensure validity of the data collection instruments the researcher formulated simple easy to understand questions whose answers had a critical bearing to
the variables under investigation so as to guide the study achieve its purpose.
3.6 Data analysis and presentation methods
Data collected was analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively using the SPSS computer
software and results presented in tables as mean, mode, median and standard deviation.
3.8 Ethical considerations
This concerned the confidentiality of the information obtained from the respondents for the purpose of this study. It was important that the respondents were guaranteed of confidentiality of the information they divulged in case they felt the questions were personal or sensitive in nature. The researcher had to bring to light the fact that the study was basically academic for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements OSHEMAC 1, and that the report will not be published for public consumption. In this respect an introduction letter from NSSA administration was a necessity.
4.0 RESULTS PRESANTATION AND DISCUSSIONS
This chapter reports and discusses the survey findings. After the questionnaire survey was carried out, statistical analyses were undertaken on the responses using various methods
described in the research methodology.
4.2 Respondents’ profile
Of the respondents, 42.3% are on-site workers or site operatives. The remaining respondents comprise 5 project managers or foremen, 2 developers, 3 architects, 6 engineers, 8 quantity surveyors or estimators and 3 contract administrators. 75% of the respondents have more than 5 years’ experience working in the construction industry.
The majority of the respondents are based in subcontractor organisations. 63% of the respondents’ companies are involved in building projects, the remainder specialising in infrastructure work and other related construction projects. B&S Mcheken Contractors has 16 permanent employees and hires more labour upon winning a contract. Most respondents (87%) have a neutral stand on the OHS management at their respective construction sites. Of the remainder, only 9.6% of the respondents rate their OHS practices as good while the other 3.8% rate them as poor.
4.3 Analysis of barriers
Based on the literature review, three main variables and eight sub-variables were identified as barriers to good OHS practice B&S Mcheken Contractors as follows:
a) Cost barriers
i. lack of expertise or resources
ii. lack of financial benefit in OHS investment
iii. lack of bargaining power
b) Time barriers
i. long training and education time
ii. tight project deadlines
c) Lack of safety awareness and concern
i. The fragmented nature of constructed industry
ii. Wrong perception or underestimation of risk
iii. Onerousness and variability of legislation
These variables were further examined and validated in this study. According to the “vicious circle” concept of Stehbens et al. (1999), inter-relationships exist between the sub-variables. This leads to complex and interdependent relationships among the variables, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Interrelationships between variables
4.3.1 Cost barriers
Table 1 below summarises the results regarding cost barriers. None of the respondents disagree with the statements made, with 60% of the respondents choosing 4 (agree) as the most frequent response for all the statements and the remaining 40% choosing “neutral” as the most frequent response. Of the five statements, Statements 8 and 9 concerning resources produced the highest mean of 3.68, indicating that the majority of the respondents agree that small construction companies have insufficient resources and finance for completely safe construction practices. Statement 11, that subcontractors face a lack of bargaining power over their main contractors, with the mean of 3.56, is the second highest cost barrier. Statements 10 and 12, on the other hand, indicate that competitive forces are perceived to have a rather less obvious effect on safety practices.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
agree Mean Median Mode Standard deviation
1 2 3 4 5
In small construction firms, the resources to
enable safe construction are not readily available 0 4 11 35 2 3.68 4 4 0.68
Due to financial pressure, small construction
firms are less likely to invest in health and safety 0 5 9 36 2 3.68 4 4 0.71
Powerful competitive forces in the construction industry often work against OSH 0 4 34 12 2 3.23 3 3 0.65
Subcontractors lack bargaining power over their main contractors 0 4 21 21 6 3.56 4 4 0.80
Projects that are competitively bid face higher frequencies of accidents 2 16 19 17 0 2.95 3 3 1.07
Table 1: Results regarding cost barriers
As Figure 2 shows, 67.3% (35) respondents rank “lack of short term financial benefit in OHS investment” as the most significant cost barrier to good OHS practice in small construction companies. This is followed by “lack of expertise or resources” which has 11 votes and the least significant barrier is “the lack of bargaining power of the subcontractors” with only 4 votes out of the 52. The results confirm that the main cost barriers to good OHS practice by small construction firms to be the lack of short term financial benefit that can be gained from investment in good OHS practices.
Figure 2: Ranking of cost barriers to OSH
4.3.2 Time barriers
Overally, the majority of the respondents expressed similar agreement on all the statements regarding time barriers, with 4 (agree) being the most frequent response to all the four statements involved (Table 2). Of these, Statement 14 has the highest result with a mean of 4.20, indicating that the majority of respondents agree with the literature in that the lack of training and education increases injury rates. As indicated by the responses to Statement 15 (3.98), most employers prefer short-term training over long-term training in order to save time. The next barrier is Statement 17 (3.77), which is that projects with tight deadlines impose problems in adopting full safety construction practice, followed finally by Statement 1 (3.73) concerning language barriers of illiterate workers.
Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
agree Mean Median Mode Standard deviation
1 2 3 4 5
14. Lack of training and education increases the injury rates 0 0 2 38 12 4.20 4 4 0.49
15. B&S prefers short term training to long term training 0 0 5 43 4 3.98 4 4 0.42
16. Language barriers of the illiterate workers affect effectiveness of training 0 3 12 33 4 3.73 4 4 0.69
17. Tight project deadline causes difficulties in adopting full safety practice 0 6 5 36 5 3.77 4 4 0.79
Table 2: Responses and statistical analysis in regards to the time barriers
As shown in Figure 3, there is a balanced ratio of 50:50 votes between the two sub-variables of “tight project deadlines” and “long training and education time” in contributing to the time barriers, implies that both have similar influence on effects of time on good OHS practice.
Figure 3: Ranking of time barriers of OSH
4.3.3 Lack of safety awareness and concern
Overally, the majority of respondents generally agree on all the statements regarding lack of safety awareness and concern, with 80% of the most frequent responses being 4 (agree), with the remainder being 3 (neutral) (Table 3).
Statement 19 (mean 4.00) is the most supported, with respondents concurring with the literature that the risk perception and safety management commitment is crucial to effective safety performance. This is followed by Statement 21 (3.58), indicating that the high mobility of subcontractors reduces the familiarity of workers with the site environment and increases the risk of injury, and Statement 20 (3.52), agreeing that subcontracting practices cause ambiguous responsibilities in maintaining OHS. Next, Statement 24 (3.27) and Statement 22 (3.23) indicate agreement that onerousness of legislative enforcement hinders good OHS practice and that accidents can be prevented if workers apply their common sense during work. Finally, Statement 23 (3.08) shows a lesser agreement with the notion that workers tend to be overconfident with their past work experience and underestimate risk. Of note is that the standard deviation results for Statement 22 (1.06) and 23 (1.00) are slightly higher due to the different opinions of the blue (on-site) and white (other professions) collar workers involved in the study.
Table 3: Responses regarding lack of safety awareness and concern
Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
agree Mean Median Mode Standard deviation
1 2 3 4 5
19. Risk perception and safety management commitment are directly linked to overall safety performance 0 0 4 44 4 4.00 4 4 0.40
20. Subcontracting practices result in ambiguous or unclear responsibilities for maintaining OSH 0 3 19 30 0 3.52 4 4 0.61
21. High mobility of subcontracted labour reduces the familiarity of workers with site environment increasing the injury rates 0 4 18 26 4 3.58 4 4 0.75
22. Accidents can be prevented so long as the employees work in ways that apply their common sense. 0 20 4 24 4 3.23 4 4 1.06
23.Workers tend to be overconfident about their past work experience and underestimate risks 0 18 19 10 6 3.08 3 3 1.00
24. The onerousness and variability of legislative enforcement can hinder the effectiveness of OSH practice 0 3 34 13 2 2.27 4 4 0.63
Figure 4 shows that 63,5% (33) Respondants ranke “wrong perception of risk” as the most significant barrier to good OSH practice at B&S Mcheken contractoros followed by fragmented nature of construction industry” with 15votes and “onerousness and variability of legislation” with only 4 out of 52 votes.
Figure 4: Ranking of lack of safety awareness and concern
4.4 Barrier rankings
Of the three catergories of barriers, Figure 5 shows that 67.3% (35) respontandants ranked lack of safety awareness and concern as the most significant barrier to good OSH practice at B&S Mcheken Contractors. This is followed by “cost barrier” which had 12 votes and the least significant barrier was “time barrier” which had only 7 votes out a total of 52.
Figure 5: Ranking of the three main barriers to good OSH practice.
4.6 Additional Barriers
CHAPTER TWO 9
Apart from the barriers given in the questionnaire, an open ended question also sought the opinions of respondents in concerning any other barriers affecting good OSH practice at B&S Mcheken Contractors. Those offered comprise
a) Fear of change of the company;
b) The high risk nature of construction industry;
c) Inadequate communication between the OSH law enforcer and the company preventing good OSH practice.
d) Ineffectiveness of safety training; and
e) Absence of inspection and enforcement of OSH law
Chapter five: Recommendations and Conclusion
Answers to a further open-ended question requesting suggestions and recommendations for overcoming the barriers to good OSH practice at the company comprise:
a) Participation of the tertiary educational sector in OSH training;
b) Greater penalties for non-compliance and financial rewards for compliance;
c) Provision of financial assistance to the firm in developing OSH competence;
d) Conduct proper safety training before engaging in any construction works;
e) Regular monitoring and evaluation of the company’s safety performance and;
f) Clear description of OSH responsibilities on each project in the in the contractual arrangements.
Discussions and conclusion
While this research was to identify the barriers to good OSH practice by B;S Mcheken contractors, the results are consistent with the existence theories from the literature. The main findings of this research are that, the barriers to good OSH practice at B;S are, in order of strength of agreement:
? The lack of safety awareness and concern, where wrong perceptions or underestimation of risks and the onerousness and variability of legislative enforcement are main contributors.
? Cost issues, comprising lack of resources and facilities, financial pressures and lack of bargaining power over main contractors make it difficult for the company to focus on issues other than project costs, schedule and quality
? Tight project deadlines and the long training and education period needed for good OSH practice
Recommendations from those involved to overcome these barriers and promote OSH practice at the organisation, are for:
? The government to establish funding schemes to ease the financial burden of small firms
? OSH to be included in the curricular of tertiary and technical education
? More emphasis to be placed on attitudes and skills development rather than just information transfer during OSH trainings.
? An effective monitoring system to be established to be established with a penalty and reward mechanism for both non-compliance and good performance.
? The safety conditions of a project to be evaluated prior to the start of the project
? Clear practical guidance on information on OSH to be made available to all employees without too much legal and technical jargon.
The findings of this research provides an insight and better understanding of the barriers which obstruct good OSH practices by B;S Mcheken Contractors and a first step towards their improvement.
Future research would benefit from a larger sample size and in-depth case studies. Remedial actions for reducing barriers to good OSH practice at the company and at other enterprises in the industry also need to be developed to and tested in future studies to contribute to continuous improvement of safety of workers at B;S Mcheken contractors and other small construction firms.