Looking At The Characteristics Of The Construction Industry Construction Essay

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The inherent characteristics of the construction industry determined its unique level of its safety management, which contains much higher danger than any other industries. Statistics shows that the construction industry have an accident rate and cause of damage more above the national average overall industries and its annual casualties share 25% of the total numbers of industrial accidents in China (Wang et al. 2009, p. 161). Both country and people could suffer from great losses of economy, properties and life caused by the frequency and severity accidents. Therefore, everyone has responsibility and obligation to enhance the safety in order to minimize the loss of life and properties (Davies & Tomasin 1990).

'Safety' is an essential and vital part for construction industry and its projects through the progress of production and business activities (Davies & Tomasin 1990). It is also a crucial element for a successful business and its future in construction industry. Decent safety environment can benefit the industry over its economic growth and social prestige, which also prevent business property to be damaged and its works' life against accidental incident. Otherwise it will bring great harm to the enterprises. Safety management is not a one-man's job, but a serious systematic project that require everyone's effort through the industry (Gerstel 2002).

Following the steady development of China's economy and increasing life demands, the construction industry practitioners and entire society has put more attention on the its health and safety issues in order to meet an international standard of construction quality. Hence its current situation of safety management need to put in seriously concern, and establish a new model consistent with the characteristics of the construction and project management which can minimize or eliminate accidents.

The goal of this paper is to improve existing models, and establish a new mode of solving the existing problems. Begin with analyzing the status of China's current construction safety issues; then improving the existing mode of project management and describing the features of the pattern after improvement; finally detailed in how to improve and evaluation of improved project management.

The current situation of construction safety management in China

Most construction accidents take place during its working progress, in other words, an unorganized construction project is the source of life loss and property damage. Because existing safety actions can hardly help in neither recue nor stop the danger during constructing progress. Therefore the project model must be carefully analyzed to meet its industrial safety requirement and compliance with the law and regulations of both state and industry.

1.1 Analyse the cause of accidents

From the systematic point of view, the cause of incident can be generalized into following four major factors:

Human - human's unsafe action is the direct reason cause the accident;

Equipment - equipment's unsafe status is another direct reason;

Environment - bad environments have negative effect on human and equipments;

Management - bad management is a significant reason for accident, even a direct reason in sometimes, because management will influence people, equipments and environment (Wang et al. 2009, p. 162).

From the reasons above, the object of positive safe management is to create a safe construction environment, keep both human and equipment in safe status. All of these need a scientific and effectual safety management system and a good operation to be guaranteed.

1.2 Analyse the current safety management mode.

Currently, most construction enterprises implement their project safety through a team of specialist. Due to the job differences between safety and construction staff, the contact between them are barely connected in many vital areas, such as the working schedule, staff deployment and material management, which all directly related to the construction safety issues. It may cause the safety specialist team that unable to make the effective safety assessment towards other staffs, due to lack of communications between each department.

In addition, Safety teams are at a lower position in comparison with other departments in the same company, which created the barrier of officialise and putting difficulties of implementing safety order in time. Another issue of current safety management is that some safe management resources are wasted significantly and large amount of them are insufficiently put in use. For example, engineers, construction workers and project managers are all equipped professional knowledge of construction safety, in other word, they all have the responsibilities and obligations to pay attention on the safety management issues and give the feedback to safety team for improvement, but in the current project safety management model, these safety management resources are not effectively integrated and fully utilized. Therefore, the current pattern of project safety management must be improved.

The process of improvement of the new safety management model

Davies and Tomasin (1990) demonstrate that the improvement of safety management model should be a new type which is consistent with project management rules and effective integration resources, and should also accord with the requirements of industrial laws and regulations, and correspond to the purpose to reduce and eventually eliminate accidents.

The theory and legal basis of the new model

2.1.1 The principle of 'Safety and prevention first'

The Production Safety Law of the People's Republic of China (2002) states, 'Safety first, prevention first' which is to comply with the general principles of safety, and is the fundamental rule of country's production in safe. All kind of safety management must adhere to this principle by law. This principle needs to reflect in any new project safety management model through its organization, processes procedure.

2.1.2 Production and safety synchronization

Safe must be kept in the process of production, as safety is the prerequisite of production, and therefore, a production manager must carry out a prior assessment of the safety and process control of the production environment, production processes, and production methods in order to ensure produce safety (Davies & Tomasin 1990). It is necessary to implement the principle of 'production of safety synchronization' and prevent the separation of safety management and production management.

2.1.3 Full participation

Safety is everyone's business, because the job of safety management is related to people's safety behaviours, which also includes self-protection awareness and quality. Therefore, safety management is not only a business for the safety manager; it also needs the attention and participation which come from all relevant individuals.

2.2. Characteristics of the improvement of new model

2.2.1 New concept of safety management project

The construction industry as a traditional industrial sector, a number of relevant personnel for safety and accident prevention misconceptions long time, because a large number of incidents has not resulted in injury or property damage accident, and that the consequences of an incidents caused by the same incentives are very different, so many people may consider that accidents in construction are due entirely to a number of accidental factors, which is inevitable (Warner 1999).

Therefore, in order to improve the safety management mode, the first thing is to update the concept of its management, which is the idea of 'any safety incidents are preventable', and by setting 'zero accidents' as the firm goal and objective of safety management.

2.2.2 New safety culture

Safety management is an overall control of the whole working progress and company employee safety. Therefore, safety culture should be the culture learned by all staff (Davies & Tomasin 1990). To create a new safety culture is to cultivate full safety culture. Full management includes not only the general contract management, subcontract management and all workers, but also property owners, designers, supervisors and community stakeholders.

A general contractor should actively mobilize and bring into play the relevant parties to promote safety management in a supervisory role and make safety management become the overriding work. The first thing that needs to be done is to fully mobilize the enthusiasm of all staff in safety management, shaping the full safety culture. Only by creating a safety culture from all the staff will the atmosphere and protection of safety be created.

2.2.3 Implementation of four changes

Compared with the traditional safety project model, the new safety management model has introduced in four changes: change the simple safety management to full participation in safety management; change it again to integrated management which closely combines safety management and progress, process and construction methods; change intermittent management to continuous, dynamic management; change the safety and production which two aspects are independent to closely connected.

How to establish a safety management project

3.1 Establishment of safety management organization

3.1.1 Definition of safety management organization

Davies and Tomasin (1990) identify that under the new safety management model, the safety management organization is no longer an individual department, but is leaded by a project manager, specialized in safety management as the core and all having professional advice and support from professional engineers, which is with the participation by team leaders and all workers. Thus, safety management and safety oversight are not only the independent set, but also have closely contacted with each other and rely on each other. It is an organization which is closely combined with the production.

3.1.2 Project Safety Organization

1) Safety management and supervision level: it contains project managers, project chief engineer, safety supervisor or safety director and exclusive safety officer.

2) Safety administration level: it includes professional engineers, team leaders and operational workers.

3.2 Redistribute safety management responsibilities

From the studying above, most of the responsibilities are undertaken by the safety officers and having them under tremendous pressures through our existing safety management environment, however, it is less applied to construction crews who share a good industrial knowledge and employee numbers, in which their safety awareness and resources are not making any contribution to the industry. Therefore, it is an important content in the creating new project safety management model by adjusting the safety management responsibilities between these two groups of staffs.

3.2.1 Responsibilities of safety management and supervision staffs

1) Project Manager: the project manager is the person who is directly in charge of the safe production project (Woodward 1997). Therefore, the project manager is in responsible of making safety management objectives, establishing safety management department, dividing staffs' safety management responsibilities, making safety management working process and supervising the progress and efficiency of overall safety management project.

2) Project Chief Engineer: the project chief engineer is the technical leader of this project (Woodward 1997). The technical management contains both engineering and safety technologies. Therefore, the project chief engineer must take the responsibility of the managing project's safety technologies including specific safety technical schemes making, approving, and fulfilling. It is narrow minded and incorrect to think technical management as only project technical management.

3) Safety supervisory director: the chief safety supervisory or officer is the direct executor of project safety management, who is also responsible for the safety management project just like the project manager (International Abour Office 1972). Man's job is to draw up the safety management program project, participate in construction scheme making and examine and verify the safety standard of the construction project.

The safety supervisory director also should take charge of clarification of overall safety management program to the construction crews, safety clarification of different subprojects, examination and verifying of the safety clarification submitted by the construction crews, supervision of the fulfilling of safety management program and technical clarification, and supervision of the safety management process.

3.2.2 Safety management operational layer

Security management operational staffs are responsible for safety management programs and safety technical disclosure of the specific implementation, security management layer of the work results of the direct impact on the effectiveness of safety management.

1) Construction workers: the construction workers (professional engineers) who are the backbones of construction project having the advantages in numbers, high qualification and positive health status (Chitkara 1998). However, the safety management and production management are not combined well in the traditional project model, and the safety management resource of construction crews is not put into good use, therefore, the construction workers need to enhance their safety management awareness for improving the overall safety management purposes.

As the direct commander of construction process, the construction crews must comply with the principle which says safety management must be synchronized with the production management, and make sure safety production. Therefore, the construction crews must take charge of the fulfilling of specific safety management measures regulated by safety management program, and safety technical clarification of different subprojects, handling of safety problems in different stages related to the production. The construction crews should also follow the supervision of safety management and supervision crew in order to remove the safety management hidden dangers, and make sure of safety production.

2) Operational Team Leader: the operational team leader takes the directly responsible for the construction workers, whose safety awareness and knowledge has a direct impact on workers actions, in other word that the team leader responsibilities are linked with the safety production line (International Abour Office 1972). The operation team leaders must be highly knowledge with production's operational instructions and operational safety, form a habit of pre-shift safety brief, shape the atmosphere of following the regulations and instructions, and enhance self-protection and self-defence awareness.

3) Operational Workers: according to the statistical point of view that almost entire fatal accident are caused by operational personal and the most of them are resulted by non-compliance with operational procedure (International Abour Office 1972). Therefore, the self-protection awareness, extent of compliance the rules and procedures of the operation workers are all important factors which will decide whether the expected effect of safety management can be achieved or not. The operation workers should comply with the operation instructions, and achieve the objective of 'three no-harm' which means not harm to other people, not harm to oneself, and not harmed by other people.

Evaluate the new safety management model

The new project safety management model is an improvement on the traditional safety management model. The major improvements are showing on the update of safety management idea, the creating of all employees' safety culture, and adjustment of safety management responsibilities. And the safety management process is reconstructed and the safety regulation is also completed (Perezgonzalez 2005). Therefore, the objective of improving safety management is to explore safety management resource fully, and reduce safety accidents in the maximum limit. In the following views, it evaluates the new safety management model in three aspects.

4.1 Should combine with the running of safety management system closely

The major feature of new project safety management model, which is unified with occupational health and safety management system, is the completeness and improvement of traditional safety management organization. The new safety management model and the health and safety management system are running together.

The key factor of occupational health and safety management system is to understand the safety risk and loss through self-assessment. Health and safety management's plan and regulations must be written towards important occupations' working progress, assess and implement them regularly. The purposes of establish a decent health and safety management system are various and multi-beneficial to the enterprise, which enhance company's marketing image and staff working spirit, reduce company's risk of extra cost in business health and safety, improve its internal management and to avoid direct or indirect loss in finance or life which caused by health safety issues. Both factors of 'Reduction of business safety risk' and 'Avoidance of safety issues' share a consistent goal in the essay which in order to improve the existing safety management model and minimize the direct and indirect loss. Therefore, the new safety management system is more closely linked with occupational health and safety system.

Health and safety management holds a crucial responsibility over the construction industry in terms of people's life and company's capital, which guarded by both law and society. Every business owner should put its employees' health and safety issue into consider and implement it through company's daily routine. Therefore, the health and safety management will tight attach to the safety management through entire construction progresses.

4.2 All employees' safety culture should be created

The improvement of project safety management model is based on the all employees' management and participant. The creation of all employees' safety culture will provide healthy atmosphere for new model running, and make sure the smooth running of the new model. Therefore, creation of all employees' safety culture is equally important to the safety management.

New safety management model is greatly focused on adapting employees' safety culture and safety awareness. In order to achieve the full establishment of understanding the safety culture, the most important part is rely on the strength of employees' safety knowledge through a systematic and periodic education process which ran by the department of human resource, and supervised by company's safety department. And the main education and training structure should base on enhancing employees' safety awareness, safety knowledge, constructional common sense and creating the safety culture through the entire enterprise, which so that can prevent people from unsafe behaviour and reduce human error in an efficient way.

4.3 To carry out concepts and ideas' update

Traditional project safety management model has been deeply rooted in the minds of most people, which they need to make a great deal of efforts in order to update and create, therefore, it must vigorously promote and instil the new concept and new point of safety management which is the fundamental point of ensuring the efficient model.

The new management model has rose the principle of 'Anything is preventable', moreover, the safety management is no longer an individual management sector but an systematic management that require everyone's participation, that combine both safety management principle and construction schedule into on integrated management body which not only maximize the utility of safety management resources, but also ultimately minimize the accidents and losses that caused by safety issues.

Conclusions

According to the statistics report of construction accident in recent years that it is clear that China's existing safety management system has left both society and construction industry a negative impression (Wang et al. 2009, p. 161). By identifying the shortcomings and analyzing the causes, author has provided a series of solutions that aimed at eliminating construction accidents that could cause by four major elements: human error, equipment, environment and management issues.

From author's point of view that China has fully equipped with world's cut-edge technologies with its construction industry, and supported by the powerful economy and enormous labor forces, there is no doubt that any mega buildings can be achieved on its land. The 2008 Beijing Olympic has been a world-shaking event not only on its opening ceremony but also on the quality of every sport venues, which has been referred by many media that 'the best Olympic game in the history'.

In this research, there is a limitation that the current safety management model is not given by a concrete example, because a variety of safety models are existed in a large number of companies in China. Further study might explain more about this situation of recent years. Besides, following the gradual improving of management, China's construction industry will see a better future in a more steady way of growing. Providing a good safety environment for people which could own great reputations from the whole society, and whatever is capable of merging high-tech and safety management, it is believable that it will create a new era of China's construction of industry and guide it to an international level.

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