Improving Safety Measures in the Sri Lankan Construction Industry

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Construction industry is one of the world leading industries today which also contributes towards the country’s economony and labour force is one of the main parts in the construction industry. Construction has been developing for years but there are some problems which has arisen with it. Today the construction industry in Sri Lanka faces a lot of difficulties maintaining the safety and health of a construction site. If this health and safety are not controlled properly due to the accidents caused it will also affect the industry as it is a loss of time, cost and resources. Control of hazard and risk are more harder as the condition of a site varies from a site to another site due to using heavy machinery equipment, most of the time it happens due to lack of experience and without having proper skill knowledge such as having unqualified workers. (Allan and John, 2005) Accidents in construction can occur due to many reasons as site and weather conditions, tool injuries (not using safety tools), time pressure and injuries and deaths due to falling from heights. Accidents at a site can also include injuries and deaths as COSHH risks, asphyxiation, burns, electrocution, toxic chemicals and exposure to asbestos, exposure to chemical, ergonomic and biological factors and explosions.(John p.s,2011)

"Around the globe, every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease and every 15 seconds, 151 workers have a work-related accident. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that over two million people die annually from work-related diseases and 321,000 people die each year from occupational accidents." Madurawala (2013)

Construction workers have gained the most disastrous injuries and have the highest number of worker injuries in any industry. According to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Sri Lanka as the construction industry is growing at an increasing rate the number of fatal accidents are also increasing at a higher rate than that. Halwathura and Jayathunga (2013) Hence this clearly signifies that though the construction is growing rapidly less attention is paid towards the health and safety of a construction site."Healthcare support, building cleaning and maintenance, transportation and material moving, and construction and extraction occupations are particularly at risk of fall injuries," Mudugamuwa (2012)

The construction industry is acknowledged as a dangerous employment which create more hazards than any other industry (Brace and Gibb, 2005). The responsibilities of every one at work are Health & Safety (H&S) Davies and Thomasine (1990) Due to the neglection of safety at a site bad health conditions, accidents and loss of productivity occurs. The construction company’s management should make sure that they are responsible for controlling and improving the problems related to H&S on sites. Hubbard (1986) targeted the importance of safety professions at sites in the construction industry and how these professions could reduce the site accidents. Furthermore, Abdelhamid and Everett (1998), Everret and Pathan (1998) and Hinze (1998) analysed the fundamental causes of construction site injuries and acciddents. Likewise, the accidents and causes of the accidents arising at sites and how these accidents can be reduced fully were examined by Bowen and Hindle (1999) In order to increase the construction market with an accident free environment the Health and Safety Strategy, 2004-2010 states that the risk of the projects must be reduced and the project quality must be managed properly.

Construction industry is a fairly risky work. In 1996, 350,000 employees were injured and 1000 other employees while working lost their lives, it was reported by the National Safety Council. It was detailed that in construction 5% were of the United States' workforce, 9% were disabled and 20% were employee disasters.

Examining the accident records, classifying the most familiar way the accidents happen were revealed by an analysis of the research on construction safety (Fullman 1984; Goldsmith 1987; Culver et al. 1990, 1992; Davies and Tomasin 1990; La Bette 1990; MacCollum 1990; Rietze 1990; Helander 1991; Peyton and Rubio 1991; Hinze 1997). From the above research they found important information regarding the construction accidents and also found the type of the most dangerous accidents that happen within the construction industry. Most dangerous accidents were reported due to the falling from heights Culver et al. (1990) “Developers and their contractors share the same goal of completing project on time, within budget and to attain a quality and standard satisfactory to both sides.” Construction Site safety handbook (2005)

It is our affirmation to find the major causes for the accidents caused more than trying to prevent accidents by our research studies. "Accident reporting is a means to an end, not an end in itself." Brown (1995) Also the answers for the investigations done at site accidents should reveal “what” and “how” they happen to get a right idea of the cause of accident. Accordingly accident prevention can be strengthened if it is prevented by finding the root cause.


The main aim of this research is to recognize and enumerate the various types of construction accidents which happen in Sri Lanka and to make the organizations aware of improving the safety measures. And also to minimize the number of accidents happening each day more than trying to prevent the accidents as a whole. And additionally to lift up the standards of safety methods at construction industries.

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  • MADURAWALA, Sunimalee (2013). Dying to work? Why health and safety in workplace an important economic issue.[online]. Daily Mirror, in press, Wijeya Newspapers Ltd 2012. Last accessed 5th October 2014 at:

  • Mudugamuwa,Maheesha(2012).Work related accidents: Construction, manufacturing sectors most dangerous sectors. [online].Sunday Island,7 May. Last accessed 5 October 2014 at:


  • Construction site safety handbook (2005). The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Construction Association
  • Halwathura R.U and Jayatunga T.L (2013).Health and safety aspects in building construction industry in Sri Lanka.[online]Department of Civil Engineering,University of Moratuwa.Last accessed 2013 at:

  • International Labour Office, 1995.Safety health and welfare on construction site. [pdf] Geneva: International Labour Office. Available at: <>[Accessed 20 July 2012].
  • MADURAWALA,Sunimalee (2013). Dying to work? Why health and safety in workplace an important economic issue.[online]. Daily Mirror.11 October. Last accessed 5th October 2014 at:

  • Mudugamuwa, Maheesha (2012). Work related accidents: Construction, manufacturing sectors most dangerous sectors. [online].Sunday Island,7 May. Last accessed 5 October 2014: