Occupational Health And Safety Of Women Labourers Construction Essay

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The construction industry is one of the major industries of the world .It contributes a large share to Sri Lankan economy.The construction industry spreads to Construct a building for residential/commercial purpose, Renovation work or maintenance work of existing building, Construction of highways/Bridges, Construction of water supply and drainage systems or other construction work .

2. Traditionally construction industry of Sri Lanka is a male dominated industry. But recent present it is a common sight that women participation in construction industry. It is common to see in many construction sites, highway construction sites and road maintenance sites there composition of female participation is high. Although women participation is high they surfer from inequity working conditions and this a research finding of Sri Lankan Labour Department in 2007.

3. In construction industry at least 60,000 people in the world are fatally injured every year. Many hundreds of thousands more suffer serious injuries due to falling objects, electrocution, trapped in excavations and accidents by vehicles. Major health problems are back injuries musculoskeletal disorders, exposure to hazardous substances and deafness. 1 Identified problem related to construction industry in Sri Lanka is lack of attention to Occupational Health and Safety of employees who are serving in the industry as labourers. This situation is worse for the women in the industry and they are highly affected in this scenario.

1Wijesundara W.L.S., Occupational Safety in Construction Industry (page 83)

4. When comparing with other industries, construction industry is a fairly risky job providing sector. Also normally in a one construction site various construction activities on going on same time. Eg: Electrical Work, Plumbing work, Masonry Work, Carpentry Work. So many sub contractors employee these labours at the same time. So that most of these employees not realized their employer. These cumulative task arrangements at once increase this risk. "Construction industry consists of one of the most dangerous working activities. Many Occupational hazards are simultaneously present at construction sites. Accident risks, dust, noise, vibration, radiation, chemicals and other hazards materials, heavy physical work and ergonomic problems are common occupational hazards in construction industry. Inadequate OHS is main cause for absenteeism among the women labourers in the construction industry.

5. Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe's research findings says that , In the year 1999, 10 out of 37 fatal accidents and 103 out of 2142 serious accidents reported to the Department of Labour were from construction sector . These statistics do not provide the exact situation of the construction industry nor does relay indicate the situation in other industries in the country. Most industries do not report accidents to the Department of Labour, although it is a legal requirement under Factories Ordinance of 42 of 1945. In respect of non reporting of accidents, we are well aware that covers the safety and health of workers in the construction sector2.

6. The objective of this study is to find out the importance of Occupational Health and Safety component to women labourers in construction industry to enhance productivity. To enhance employee productivity employee absenteeism should minimized. Absenteeism result low productivity. Absenteeism occurs due to various reasons such as poor working conditions, stress, transport problems, etc.

2Samarasinghe M., Are our construction sites safe from Construction Hazards (2002.08.04)

Through out this study researcher trying to find out the relationship between Occupational Health and Safety and Absenteeism.




1. The aim of the research is to identify the relationship between. Occupational Health and Safety and, Absenteeism of Women Labourers in the Construction Industry


2. Lack of attention to Occupational Health and Safety of employees who are serving in the industry as labourers are identified problems related to construction industry in Sri Lanka. This situation is worse for the women in the industry and they are highly affected from this problem. Whether this situation has a correlation with the absenteeism is a question needs an answer.


3. The research hypothesis is that the Inadequate OHS is the main cause for absenteeism among the women labourers in the construction industry.


4. The research is focused to find whether the Inadequate OHS is main cause for absenteeism among the women labourers in the construction industry.


5. To study the relationship between the OHS level and the absenteeism of the female labourer engaged in construction industry.


6. The specific objectives are

To identify Occupational Health and Safety conditions of women labourers in Construction Industry

To identify the specific Occupational Health and Safety conditions specifically affecting the women labourers which lead to occupational injuries faced/ environmental and Occupational Health Hazard and Diseases

To identify whether there is a relationship between OHS and Absenteeism

To recommend the alternatives to uplift the Occupational Health and Safety conditions of women labourers in Construction Industry


7. The required data for the research was collected from the following sources;

a. Primary Sources. Primary sources will include data and information.

Statistical Data. Statistical data were collected from administrative reports, facts and figures of Department of Labour.

(2) Interviews. Officials of various appointments of Department of Labour and supervisors of sites were interviewed to collect information.

(3) Questionnaires. The questionnaires were distributed among 20 women employees who were absent to the work very often of three sites as the sample.

b. Secondary Sources. Information was gathered from relevant books and web sites of the internet.


8. The paper will be structured as follows:

a. Chapter I. _ Introduction.

b. Chapter II _ Methodology.

c. Chapter III. _ Literature Review and Theoretical Frame work.

d. Chapter IV. _ Data. Presentation.

Chapter V. _ Data Analysis, Discussion and Findings.

f. Chapter VI. _ Conclusion and Recommendations.


9. Available time period for this research is only 03 months and research paper is limited to 5000 words. This survey only covers the Colombo District and cannot be taken as representation of the entire industry. Some employers are reluctant to interview their employees in sites as they are strictly on targets. It was a difficult task to locate the employees who absent to the work because they were employees in another site.




It is important to investigate how Occupational Health and Safety practices help to achieve organizational goals and objectives. To understand the relationship developed theories can be used. Throughout this chapter researcher has focus how occupational health and safety component importance and relates with the industrial relations by using theoretical explanations.


Since 1950, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shared a common definition of occupational health. It was adopted by the Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health at its first session in 1950 and revised at its twelfth session in 1995. The definition reads: "Occupational health should aim at: the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological capabilities; and, to summarize, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job."

Relationship between Working conditions and HRM

Theoretical Explanations Related to occupational Health and Safety

Common Causes of accidents

Relationship between Working Conditions AND HUMAN Resources Management

3. It is important to understand the how working conditions interrelated with Human Resources Management and how it affect the ultimate organization performance. Better working conditions are ensure the efficient and effective utilization of Human Resources in the organization and increased productivity. Worker motivation is the main fact behind the productivity. Therefore motivations theories can explain this scenario.

a. Herzberg's two factor theory of Motivation- From this research, Herzberg suggested a two-step approach to understanding employee motivation and satisfaction

Hygiene factors- Hygiene factors are based on the need to for a business to avoid unpleasantness at work. If these factors are considered inadequate by employees, then they can cause dissatisfaction with work. Hygiene factors include:

Company policy and administration

Wages, salaries and other financial remuneration

Quality of supervision

Quality of inter-personal relations

Working conditions

Feelings of job security

Motivator factors- Motivator factors are based on an individual's need for personal growth. When they exist, motivator factors actively create job satisfaction. . If they are effective, then they can motivate an individual to achieve above-average performance and effort. Motivator factors include:


Opportunity for advancement

Gaining recognition


Challenging / stimulating work

Sense of personal achievement & personal growth in a job

b. Maslow's Motivation Theory-Abraham Maslow (1954) attempted to synthesize a large body of research related to human motivation. Prior to Maslow, researchers generally focused separately on such factors as biology, achievement, or power to explain what energizes, directs, and sustains human behavior. Maslow posited a hierarchy of human needs based on two groupings: deficiency needs and growth needs. Within the deficiency needs, each lower need must be met before moving to the next higher level. Once each of these needs has been satisfied, if at some future time a deficiency is detected, the individual will act to remove the deficiency. The five levels are:

1) Physiological: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, etc.

2) Safety/security: out of danger;

3) Belongings and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted; and

4) Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition.

5) Self Actualization

Theories on Common Causes of Accidents

5. Perhaps the most influential theory of accident causation has been Heinrich's Domino Theory of the 1920s. Essentially, the theory states that and accident leading to injury or damage is the result of a five stage sequence. Each domino therefore represents a linked cause. Remove any one of them and the sequence cannot run its course, and therefore damage or injury will not be incurred.

6. Over time, consensus has built up about the types of cause represented by each domino stage. By now, we know enough about the last two stages (the accident and resulting injury or damage), but some typical examples of the first three causes are:

Work situation 

Fault of person

Unsafe act

Inadequate management control

Unsafe system design

 Lack of suitable standards

Faulty or inadequate equipment

Business pressures 

Insufficient skill or knowledge

Failure to follow  procedures

Personal problems 

Lack of motivation



Process error

Taking short cuts

Taking unnecessary risks

Removal of safety equipment

Failure to use safety equipment

7. The organizational factors in Reason's model include resource allocation, health and safety goals, delegation of responsibility and authority, workplace design, procurement of equipment, etc. These are communicated throughout the organization as workplace factors, such as policies and procedures, work schedules, instructions, training, and so on. These factors affect the frontline worker and (in accident scenarios) may influence them to cut corners for instance, to meet an urgent deadline, or to assume that a key maintenance action can be left for someone else to carryout. .

8. Reason's model may be less attractive to the health and safety practitioner than Heinrich's because it offers less choice about where to begin tackling safety in the organization, and because the starting point it offers (organizational strategy and culture) may not be easy for the health and safety practitioner to influence. Even more discouraging is the belief among some experts, that the causation of accidents in certain high-risk systems, is too complex even to address from the standpoint of organizational factors.

Relationship between Occupational Health and Safety and Absenteeism

9 In this competitive environment, employees undergo stressful situations and failure to report to work. "A significant reason aside from illness of employee absenteeism is physical and mental stress1

10 Physical and Mental job stress individual is likely to have greater job dissatisfaction, increase absenteeism2

11 Above two reports have substantiated the relationship between Occupational Health and Safety and absenteeism.

12 This research describes the relationship between Occupational Health and Safety and Absenteeism. Researcher is trying to prove the necessity of standard Occupational Health and Safety practices to an organization to reduce employee absenteeism. Conceptual Framework is developed identifying independent and dependent varies.

13 Every organization attempts to maximize their profits and wealth. For this attempt they use various management strategies. Under the strategic formation they should maintain business and legal requirements. Occupational Health and Safety is one of those main requirements. It is necessary to Human Resources Management a lot in an organization. Organizations try to create a safe and healthy work environment for their employees for main three reasons. The first is altruism; that is the organization genuinely cares for all its members.

The second is the financial and non financial benefits for the company. Lower absenteeism and turnover, higher productivity, reduced insurance rates, improve employee morale and enhanced appeal to job applications. The third reason is compliances with federal state, and local regulations. Violations of health and safety laws can mean large fines, bad publicly and even jail senses for top managers.

14 For maintain Occupational Health and Safety requirements organizations should control and minimized Occupational injuries faced by employees, reduce Environment and Occupational Health hazards, prevention methods should carry out for occupational diseases, should provide Safety equipments and Health and safety trainings should provide to employees.