Safety in the construction industry has always been a major issue. Wherever reliable records are available, construction is found to be one of the most dangerous on safety and health criteria, particularly in developing countries. Though much improvement in construction safety has been achieved, the industry still continues to lag behind most other industries with regard to safety.
Pakistan is a developing country and currently enjoys a relatively strong growth in construction work. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s construction industry suffers from poor safety and health conditions. The framework of the existing occupational and health conditions is fragmented and inadequately enforced, making construction sites more hazardous. It may even be argued that relevant regulations are outdated and irrelevant in day-to-day construction operations.
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Like many developing countries of the world, Pakistan at present does not have comprehensive occupational health and safety laws. The number of injuries and illnesses is probably very high in Pakistan because thousands of workers are routinely exposed to hazardous work in construction industry. However, there is no reliable data on occupational safety and health injuries and illnesses because a majority of accidents are not reported to the regulatory agencies. The regulatory agencies neither have an effective enforcement policy nor strict requirements for reporting injuries and illness at work places. Another reason of such indents is the careless behaviour of workers towards safety measures and rules.
This study focus on national culture and safety climate in the construction industry in Pakistan. More specifically, it investigates the safety perceptions, attitudes, and behaviour of Pakistani construction workers and management safety practices. It will present the practical results of a number of questionnaire surveys administrate in Pakistan targeting construction workers, and managers with safety management responsibilities.
Due to a relatively new awareness of construction safety in Pakistan, the construction industry lacks infrastructure for proper construction safety standards and plans. This study provide the way to improve management system to reduce injuries at construction site and some useful insights into the main players of the Pakistani construction industry for a greater understanding of: (1) risk perceptions, attitudes and safe/unsafe work behaviour of construction workers; (2) managers’ safety practices and their preferences; and (3) the extent to which workers’ attitudes and perceptions and their behaviour are associated with their national culture. This data not only adds to the understanding of the implications of Pakistani cultural values on the construction organization, but also provides new knowledge for construction managers who will be better able to understand the culture within which they operate and improve outcomes. The results of this research will be of use to a cross-sectional range of workers and managers
Why are you interested in the project?
Safety of a workforce employed in the construction industry has always been a matter of concern for employers and labour organizations in developing countries.
Previous research has shown that improving the accuracy in the recording of incidents (or accidents) is one way in which the safety management system could be improved. Without a robust safety management system it is impossible to provide a safe working environment for employees.
In order to improve health and safety systems, developing countries should look at systems in place in developed countries. In these countries the situation is quite the opposite, and therefore they can be used as a guide as to what can be achieved in the health and safety area of the construction industry in developing countries.
Though a lot of preventive measures have been implemented and enforced to ensure the safety of labourers in the developing countries, there is still much more that needs to be done in this area to reduce the chances of any unfortunate situations arising.
Astonishingly, in certain parts of developing countries like Pakistan, safety rules within construction companies usually do not exist; and if they do in a rough form. Most companies do not even follow rules considered basic in developed countries, for example appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and adequate signage.
For this research, appropriate methods for data collection would surely be: questionnaire surveys and interviews. The questionnaire will have both qualitative and quantitative items for this research and it includes open-ended and close-ended questions. The open-ended questions will be providing with a view to obtain as much as information possible about site safety conditions and plans. This questionnaire also has several quantitative measures (Keys) built into it. These quantitative measures (Keys) will provide to facilitate the intention to translate the qualitative impressions gathered after each interview into some measurable rating scales. In addition, each management staff was asked for their personal and professional information background (i.e. age, job title, experience in construction and safety training received). Finally management was asked to provide personal suggestions for improvements to the safety systems at the site.
And finally the data which will collect from the questionnaire surveys and interviews will analyse and the analytical analysis will undertake.
For secondary data there has been increasing interest in trying to understand how management practices and organizational factors impact on workplace, workers and their safety. Some research papers have focused on workplace managers as role models for instilling safety awareness and supporting safe behaviour also I will use internet search for this research.
The construction industry plays a vital role in the social and economic development of all countries. The importance and role of the construction industry in the economy of any country has been confirmed by several studies, including Coble and Haupt (1999). However, when compared with other (labour intensive) industries, the construction industry has historically experienced a disproportionately high rate of disabling injuries and fatalities for its size (Hinze, 1997). Kartam and Bouz (1998) identified the advancement in social sciences as having promoted a greater awareness of the purity of life and the unacceptability of premature death due to work-related accidents.
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Past researches has shown that the high number of construction site accidents is a universal problem of much concern. Though notable improvements in construction worker safety at sites have been achieved, the industry continues to lag behind most other industries with regard to safety (National Safety Council, 1999). According to Davies and Tomasin (1996), there are a number of reasons why accident records within the construction industry compare poorly with those of the manufacturing industry. In factories, there is normally a controlled working environment, with little change in the working procedures and equipment over long periods; additionally, the labour force usually remains fairly constant. Thus once identified, hazards can be remedied with relative ease, and the danger mitigated. However the case is quite different in the construction industry as the working environment is constantly changing.
The construction industry is a mixture of different organisations, which directly and indirectly influence the construction process. These organisations include property developers, architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, accountants, lawyers, civil engineering contractors, engineering contractors, management contractors, labourers, subcontractors and specialist trades. The same complexity can be found with construction workplaces. Within the workplace Construction processes involve hazardous activities, such as working at height, manual handling, exposure to hazardous materials, demolition, frame erection, lifting operations, scaffolding and ground works, bulk materials and heavy equipment handling, as well as the varying jobsite personnel and the regularly changing worksites. A further characteristic of the industry, that makes management of this sector more troublesome, is the unfavourably high supervisor-worker ratio. Supervisors who have more a personal and positive relationship with workers have more favourable safety performance records (Hinze, 1997; Levitt & Samelson, 1993). This relationship is harder to develop if the ratio is too high, which is generally the case within the construction industry (Smallwood, 2000). Rowlinson and Lingard (1996) have attributed the prototype nature of construction projects, the transient nature of work, low education levels of the workforce and high levels of subcontracting, as major contributing factors to poor safety records within the construction industry worldwide.
There is a wide variation in economic structures, occupational structures, working conditions, work environment, and the health status of workers in different regions of the world, in different countries and in different sectors of the economy. Therefore the mechanisation of the construction industry is not uniform throughout the world. However, as stated earlier, the construction industry plays a vital role in boosting the economy of any country, especially a developing country. It provides the infrastructure required for other sectors of the economy to flourish. Many studies, such as Coble and Haupt (1999) have shown that construction industry reflects the level of economic development within the country. The construction sector everywhere faces problems and challenges. However, in developing countries, these difficulties and challenges are present alongside a general level of socio-economic stress and a lower productivity rate when compared to developed countries (Ofori, 2000). Nevertheless it is generally believed that the industry is a good source of employment at various levels of skills, from a general labour to semi-skilled, skilled and specialist workforce. Other major areas that impacts on this sector are lack of research and development, lack of trade and safety training, client dissatisfaction, and the continuously increasing construction costs (all of which result in less profitability).
A lot of analyst found that, in most developing countries, for example like India, there are: no training programs for staff and workers therefore, no orientation for new staff or workers is conducted, hazards are not pointed out and no safety meetings are held. Employees are expected to learn from their own mistakes and experience.
It is widely accepted that unsafe behaviour is intrinsically linked to workplace accidents. A positive correlation exists between workers’ safe behaviour and the safety climate within construction site environments. Construction workers’ attitudes towards safety are influenced by their perceptions of risk, management, safety rules and procedures. A variety of studies, including Niskanen (1994), Glendon and Litherland (2001) and Mohamed (2002) have investigated the construction safety climate within developed countries. In the majority of these studies, researchers have either developed a new model or replicated an already tested model with a view to improving its adequacy. However, there is a lack of research in this area in the context of developing countries.
Pakistan is a developing country that is currently enjoying relatively strong growth in construction activities. Unfortunately, the enforcement of safety regulations is not widespread within Pakistan. Some may even argue that the framework of existing occupational and health conditions of Pakistan’s construction industry is fragmented and inadequately enforced. Likewise in any industry, good health and safety conditions form good and safe business practice. Therefore, it is believed the integration of safety and health measures into a total management system, within the construction sector in Pakistan, could contribute significantly to the cost efficiency, quality assurance and environmental protection of the company and its employees.
Cultural differences have a significant impact upon industrial safety culture and help in understanding the different approaches to accident prevention and safety management. Knowledge of cultural differences cannot be acquired without first understanding what culture is. Although “culture” is used widely to describe variations among people from different nations or of different ethnicities, there is no single, accepted definition. There is, however, a commonly-used set of characteristics that helps to identify culture: 1) culture includes systems of values
2) Culture is learned, not innate 3) culture distinguishes one group from another and 4) culture influences beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and behaviour in a somewhat uniform and predictable way (Bird, 2003). As safety climate is often portrayed as a temporal measure of culture (Cheyne et al., 1998) this last characteristic of culture is most important, as it relates the national culture to the safety climate. Safety climate also refers to the shared perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour of the worker, regarding safety in their workplace. Ngowi and Mothibi (1996), in a study of 30 construction sites in Botswana, found cultural differences were a major reason for viewing safety procedures differently. Site managers in that study stated that the safety gear provided to employees from impoverished backgrounds were often sold. The managers also referred to the cultural habits of drinking alcohol or taking herbal drugs. They identified a tendency for workers to travel to work in smart clothes and to leave the construction site to spend their money as soon as they received their wages. Experience with traditional construction techniques, such as the use of mud mixed by hand, proved to be obstacles in getting workers to appreciate the need to wear gloves when working with concrete. Further, some local cultures were considered more emotional or more dominant, thus causing certain difficulties with effective safety management.
The literature review revealed a lack of research work undertaken on the influence (direct or indirect) of national culture on local safety conditions in the construction industry. This deficiency is a major contributor to the development of this current research rationale which focuses on workers’ and management characteristics, and how these characteristics in turn, can influence the safety climate of the workplace.
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