Health and safety management and performance among construction contractors in South Africa

Okonkwo, Nwabueze Patrick (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The construction industry is of vital importance to the economies of nations. It employs about seven percent of the global workforce but accounts for between 30 and 40 percent of all work-related fatalities, with developing countries recording more fatalities when compared to developed countries. The economic cost of construction accidents is also significant in terms of compensation claims, lost productivity, and overruns on project schedule and cost. Health and safety management within the construction industry has not developed at the same pace as in other industries and with technological advances within the industry itself. The failure of health and safety management systems and the lack of safety culture within contractor organisations have been highlighted as factors responsible for the high rate of construction accidents in developing countries such as South Africa. Previous studies have focused on construction phase health and safety management interventions. Few studies have investigated health and safety management within the construction industry from the organisational/enterprise perspective. In this study, the aim was to identify and compare the effectiveness of the different H&S management arrangements employed by construction contractors in South Africa. In the context of this study, a health and safety management arrangement is defined as: the organisational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, procedures, processes, resources and practices for managing the health and safety risks associated with the business of an organisation. This study uses a mixed methods research design that combined qualitative descriptive research and quantitative research approaches to achieve the research objectives. The broad spectrum of health and safety management arrangements (HSMA) within medium to large size contractor organisations in South Africa were categorised into three distinct types – (1) traditional/compliance motivated, (2) systematic/compliance motivated, and (3) systems/best practice motivated. Areas of strengths and weaknesses in the strategically developed policies and procedures, as well as their implementation were identified for each type. Top management leadership, operational managers’ leadership, safety professionals’ leadership were identified as critical factors responsible for variations in the safety performance of the three HSMA types. Top management leadership was identified as an important factor to building systems that support effective health and safety management. Safety professionals’ leadership and operational managers’ leadership were identified as factors that positively impacted health and safety management practices and workers’ behaviour respectively. The study concludes that to improve the safety performance within the South African construction industry, health and safety management practices and safety related behaviour of construction workers within the industry must improve. Achieving this requires emphasis on policies that improve safety professionals’ leadership and operational managers’ leadership within contractor organisations. The uniqueness of this study is the adoption of a holistic organisational perspective to investigating health and safety management efforts of construction contractor organisations. The value of this study lies in the improved understanding of the different types of health and safety management arrangements within contractor organisations in South Africa, their characteristics and their relative effectiveness. It is believed that this study will draw greater attention to the study of construction safety challenges from an organisational perspective and inform actions that strengthen identified weaknesses in the health and safety management efforts of contractor organisations.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die konstruksiebedryf is van uiterste belang vir die ekonomieë van lande. Sowat sewe persent van die wêreldwye arbeidsmag word daardeur in dien geneem, maar verteenwoordig tussen 30 en 40 persent van alle werkverwante sterftes, met ontwikkelende lande wat meer bydra tot die statistiek. Die ekonomiese koste van konstruksie ongelukke is ook beduidend in terme van vergoedingseise, verlies in produktiwiteit, en oorskryding op projek skedule en koste. Veiligheidsbestuur in die konstruksiebedryf het nie teen dieselfde tempo ontwikkel as in ander nywerhede nie en ook nie soos tegnologiese vooruitgang binne die bedryf self nie. Die mislukking van veiligheidsbestuurstelsels en die gebrek aan ʼn veiligheidskultuur binne konstrukieorganisasies word algemeen uitgelig as faktore wat verantwoordelik is vir die hoë vlak van konstruksie ongelukke in ontwikkelende lande soos Suid-Afrika. Vorige studies het gefokus op konstruksiefase veiligheidsbestuursintervensies. Min studies het egter veiligheidsbestuur in die konstruksiebedryf vanuit die organisatoriese/ ondernemingsperspektief ondersoek. In hierdie studie was die doel om die effektiwiteit van die verskillende beroepsveiligheid bestuursreëlings van konstruksiekontrakteurs in Suid-Afrika, te identifiseer en te vergelyk. In die konteks van hierdie studie word 'n gesondheids- en veiligheidsbestuursreëling gedefinieer as: die organisatoriese struktuur, beplanningsaktiwiteite, verantwoordelikhede, prosedures, prosesse, hulpbronne en praktyke vir die bestuur van die gesondheids- en veiligheidsrisiko's wat verband hou met die besigheid van 'n organisasie. Hierdie studie gebruik 'n samestelling van verskillende navorsingsmetodes, wat kwalitatiewe beskrywende navorsing en kwantitatiewe navorsingsbenaderings, kombineer om die navorsingsdoelwitte te bereik. Die breë spektrum van veiligheidsbestuursreëlings in medium tot groot kontrakteursorganisasies in Suid-Afrika is in drie hoof tipes gekategoriseer, naamlik: (1) tradisionele/nakoming gemotiveer, (2) sistematiese/nakoming gemotiveer, en (3) stelsels/beste praktyk gemotiveer. Areas van sterk punte en swakpunte in die strategies ontwikkelde beleide en prosedures, sowel as die implementering daarvan, is vir elke tipe geïdentifiseer. Hoofbestuursleierskap, leierskap van operasionele bestuurders, en professionele veiligheidsbeamptes se leierskap is geïdentifiseer as kritiese faktore verantwoordelik vir variasies in die veiligheidsgedrag van die drie veiligheidsbestuurstipes. Hoofbestuursleierskap is geïdentifiseer as 'n belangrike faktor vir die bou van stelsels vir veiligheidsbestuur. Professionele veiligheidsbeamptes en operasionele bestuurders se leierskap is geïdentifiseer as faktore wat die veiligheidsbestuurspraktyke en werkers se gedrag beïnvloed. Die studie het tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat om die veiligheidsgedrag binne die Suid- Afrikaanse konstruksiebedryf te verbeter, moet veiligheidsbestuurspraktyke en veiligheidsverwante gedrag van konstruksiewerkers binne die bedryf verbeter. Dit benodig klem op leierskap van operasionele bestuurders en leierskap van professionele veiligheidsbeamptes. Die uniekheid van hierdie studie is die holistiese perspektief waar veiligheidsbestuur op n organisatoriese vlak ondersoek word vir konstruksie kontrakteursorganisasies, eerder as op ‘n projekvlak. Die waarde van hierdie studie lê in ʼn beter begrip van die verskillende tipes veiligheidsbestuursreëlings binne kontrakteursorganisasies in Suid- Afrika, hul eienskappe en hul relatiewe effektiwiteit. Hierdie studie sal meer aandag vestig op konstruksieveiligheidsuitdagings vanuit 'n organisatoriese perspektief, en ondersteun aksies wat in die veiligheidsbestuurspogings van kontrakteursorganisasies kan versterk

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105803
This item appears in the following collections: