Research Into Health And Safety On The Site Construction Essay


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Health and safety on site is an important practice of any building site. A health and safety plan is obligatory and required at the bid or tender stage. Even though health and safety is not a realized expense or shown in a completed product structure it contributes an enormous role in the actual progress. Health and safety is to some degree an inert factor in the construction issue.

"Health and safety on site should be a core requirement of business activity, not an inconvenient 'add-on'. As far as I am concerned, those who cannot manage health and safety, cannot manage! We need to create a positive health and safety culture which sees business go beyond doing the statutory minimum" (Bill Callaghan, June 2000)

A safety induction is a primary activity performed on site yet it is cited and accounted for in few building programmes. Safety ought to be treated severely because it deals specifically with the individuals that power the projects we as professionals drive.

This report attempts to outline the state of safety within the industry, identify key issues contributing to the results and make researched recommendations and solutions to the issue at hand.

The Constitution

The constitution is the highest law of our country and is supersedes all other laws. It entrenches the right of its citizens to a healthy and safe working environment overall.

Chapter 2 - Bill of Rights (Section 24)

"Environment - Everyone has the right -

To an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and

To have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that -

Prevent pollution and ecological degradation

Promote conservation; and

Secure ecologically sustainable development and the use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development."

Health and safety is consequently both a legal obligation and constitutional right. These laws have been adopted by our nation and should be abided by all citizens. These laws cannot be deemed as a burden but rather a factor which if correctly enforced, influences a positive progression of the construction process and humanity as a whole by placing major influence on the environment, protecting it and the people within the system.

The OHS Act is governed by the South African legal system and is implemented by;

Civil Law - This compensates an employee for losses incurred in the event of ill health, accidents and death. Compensation is received for the loss of an income, pain or any other inconvenience.

Criminal Law - This serves a big enough reason to implement the OHS Act. Companies or individuals that transgress the law are either fined or imprisoned and in some cases both are not uncommon.

Cost of Accidents

Accidents are more costly than most people recognize because of the unseen costs. Some costs are more obvious than others and are regarded as direct costs. These are what lie on the surface and are clearly visible to a materialistic viewer. Direct cost can be in the form of Workmen's Compensation which covers medical bills and indemnity payments for an ill or injured worker

There are also costs to teach and compensate a substitute worker, repair damaged property, investigate the accident and apply remedial action, and to uphold insurance coverage. Even less obvious are the costs related to programme delays, added administrative time, lowered morale, increased non-attendance, and poorer client relations. These are the indirect costs which only become apparent when we take a deeper look.

Research into Health and Safety on Site

Site's practices and safety methods

The best way to look for solution to a problem you are having is to look at others having the same problem, dealing with the same problem or in the same situation and avoiding the problem. We are going to look at some practices on site and how they deal with issues, or what issues they have on site.

New Employee Orientation

New employees should engage in a new employee orientation. The quantity of information in these orientations and in the first few days of any job, this training should be divided down two parts that includes, some topics such as, basic companies safety policies and on site safety hazards and principals.

Safety Training/Meetings

Safety meetings and training should be carried out on a daily, weekly or even monthly period. Depending on the project and the accidents threats on this project, informal meetings, and training can be in multiple times during the day to enable communication between supervisors and the workers performing the jobs.

Job-Specific Safety Training

A new employee orientation, employees who switch jobs, job criteria, or whose safety actions need development should have additional safety practice that includes good work techniques, the health, maintenance and personal protective equipment, risks associated with any threatening material used in the enhancement of the job, and the actions of these practices

Supervisory Training

Supervisors set the route in any work environment. A supervisor who seeks employees' safety will achieve safety record than one that does not. To be effective, supervisors must attend certain training that emphasizes the unifying of the company's commitment to a safe working environment, reviews the company's safety policies, conducting regular safety meetings, on how to handle unsafe working conditions, accident investigation process, coaching, and counselling. The supervisor is always on the front of the business every day and plays a larger role in any company's success and safety. (Extract and PARTS only taken of ehow safety tips)

Safety Representative Notes

Safety Glasses

It is of utmost importance to protect your eyes when working as it could damage eyesight and vision. This may look like it is not necessary all the time, however when any object touches the eye it can cause severe difficulties in sight. Sawdust, debris and any other common material dust can go to the back of your eyeball and create an infection which may stop work. Metal fibres from drilling or cutting holes in metal as can easily become embedded in the eye and could become quite painful.

Safety Harnesses

Safety harnesses ties a worker on high buildings so that they may work at those heights without being in fear of falling off. They are used for working on scaffolding, and others like tall walls or buildings roofs and lifts. The fall is not as deadly as what you fall on. A safety harness will ensure that the worker to hang from the tie down instead of going down and can go upward or downward to reach at a safer position.

Safety Boots

A good quality pair of safety boots is fundamental for balance on site when working. The boots should have a soft rubber sole for good grip properties and have a fit to allow easy smooth movement. It is best to poses boots with good electrical protection with, water and oil resistance to avoid slipping, and a steel toe for protection.

Drug and drinking policy.

Many of the workforce are injured and killed to drinking and drug abuse on site. A strong zero tolerance should be put in place and followed to by every employee. Some employees think it's OK to have a drink at lunch breaks and go back to work because it's only a "buzz," but when if this employee is working with heavy machinery it could cause an injury very easily Alcohol and drugs in a workplace leads to bad decisions and inaccurate judgments which lead to injuries on site.


The Occupational Safety and Health representative is the leader in any construction and all the employment safety. They put greater safety and inspections in order to keep all employees protected from injuries caused to them and to others around them. These actions are helpful with reducing accidents on site to employees and fellow employees; this in turn produces a safer working site.

Extracts Taken in conjunction with safety representatives and from (on safety matter)

Occupational health and safety act

19. Health and safety committees. - (1) An employer shall in respect of each workplace where two or more health and safety representatives have been designated, establish one or more health and safety committees and, at every meeting of such a committee as contemplated in subsection (4), consult with the committee with a view to initiating, developing, promoting, maintaining and reviewing measures to ensure the health and safety of his employees at work.

(2) A health and safety committee shall consist of such number of members as the employer may from time to time determine: Provided that

(a) If one health and safety committee has been established in respect of a workplace, all the health and safety representatives for that workplace shall be members of the committee;

(b) if two or more health and safety committees have been established in respect of a workplace, each health and safety representative for that workplace shall be a member of at least one of those committees; and

(c) The number of persons nominated by an employer on any health and safety committee established in terms of this section shall not exceed the number of health and safety representatives on that committee.

20. Functions of health and safety committees-. (1) A health and safety committee-

(a) May make recommendations to the employer or, where the recommendations fail to resolve the matter, to an inspector regarding any matter affecting the health or safety of persons at

The workplace or any section thereof for which such committee has been established;

(b) Shall discuss any incident at the workplace or section thereof in which or in consequence of which any person was injured, became ill or died, and may in writing report on the incident to an inspector; and

(c) Shall perform such other functions as may be prescribed.

From the above extract from the occupational health and safety act we can see that the law has a very active role in health and safety on site. Hence we can see if health and safety is not adhered on site it is a criminal offence . Although this is true many companies have taken this very lightly and deemed this as a lighter crime. The punishment and penalties should be emphasized more in order for companies to get the message and start practicing safer working conditions even if they are forced to.

The emphasis on this report though is not on forcing acts or principals on companies, rather showing that implementation has both short term and long term benefits.


Data Collection

During the period of 2012 it was decided that a survey would be conducted telephonically among contractors with CIDB grading level 6 - 9 operating in the Durban area. Due to the confidentiality of these contractors their personal information is withheld. The survey (please see Appendix) consists of 20 questions, covering such areas as "workplace priorities", "safety and communication at the employee's current or most recent workplace". Survey design was based on the use of the telephone to contact respondents, which was done by the researcher. Calls were made Monday to Fridays, beginning June 3, 2012, from 9:00 4:00 p.m. Telephoning ended on August 31, 2012. Completed survey forms were then checked and edited prior to responses being inputted.

Data Analysis

Almost 2/3's of respondents were employees with approximately equal numbers (about 17%) being either "management" or "owner/operators".

About 6 out of 10 respondents were female and the balance, 4 out of 10, male.

About 31% of respondents were 15 to 34 years old; 54% were 35 to 54 years old; and 15.3% were 55 and older.

About 11% of respondents worked on their own; 41% worked with between 2 to 10 workers;

17% worked with between 11to 21 workers; and about 31% worked at a workplace with more than 21 workers. .

3 out of 4 respondents worked full-time, and just over 4 out of 5 worked year round.

Almost 3 out of 5 (58.6%) of respondents reported having worked 20+ years.

Experience at the most recent workplace is relatively unchanged except for the most experienced category, 21+ years which, at 7.9%, is less than half the other categories.

Workplace priorities:

"A safe workplace" was rated as a higher priority in the workplace than either "Keeping the costs down" or "Maintaining a high level of production" with "Producing a quality product or providing quality service" rated as the top workplace priority. There was little difference between respondent's ratings for "total work experience" and their ratings for "most recent work experience".

"A safe workplace" was rated as a higher priority in the workplace than either "Keeping the costs down" or "Maintaining a high level of production" with "Producing a quality product or providing quality service" rated as the top workplace priority for managers, immediate supervisors and fellow workers. The only change in priority patterns was in "Keeping costs down", which respondents thought both managers and immediate supervisors considered more important than "Maintaining a high level of production".

Safety in the workplace:

Just over half of the respondents (55%) said their workplace had safety values, and of those respondents just under 3/4's thought the safety values were up-to-date, well understood and had an important influence on safety.

Just over 4 out of 10 respondents thought that managers were held accountable, either fully or in a general way, for preventing injuries and safety incidents in their area. 2 out of 10 respondents did not know the extent to which managers were accountable.

Half of the respondents (50%) said they had received from "extensive" to "some training" in safety and occupational health in the last 2 years.

Communication and Safety:

Slightly under half of the respondents (46.6%) said safety meetings were held in their workplace. And of those, just over 45% said meetings were held on a monthly basis.

Of those respondents who said there were safety meetings in their workplace, almost 2/3's attended the meetings regularly.

Almost 6 out of 10 respondents rated the quality and effectiveness of the safety meetings at

their workplace as either "Excellent" or "Good".

Just over 7 out of 10 (72.2%) of respondents rated the quality of the safety rules at their workplace as either "Excellent", "Good" or "Satisfactory".

Almost 8 out of 10 (79.4%) of respondents rated the extent to which the safety rules in their workplace were obeyed as either "generally obeyed", to "... obeyed without exception".

Just over 1 out of 3 (34.8%) of respondents chose "Don't know" when asked their opinion about how disciplinary action was used in their workplace for infractions of safety rules or practices.

Just over 1 out of 3 (36.7%) of respondents felt that "all injuries and safety incidents in their workplace were investigated, reported and action taken".

About 1 in 4 respondents said that they had taken time off work due to an injury or disability.

Of those respondents who said they had taken time off work due to an injury or disability, just over half (50.9%) had taken off from 1 to 15 days.

Just over 1 in 5 respondents (22.2%) said that they had taken time off work in the last year due to an injury or disability.

Of those respondents who said they had taken time off work in the last year due to an injury or disability, almost 6 out of 10 (58.4%) had taken off from 1 to 15 days

4 out of 10 respondents opted to receive a copy of the survey results.


There are many points that can be discussed in this conclusion from the data and information we have been presented, but I am going to link my conclusion to my results, How can we use these tools from the results to help us develop solutions?

Initially the report was more on the emphasis of "monetary "gains and losses in the safety aspect on a construction site in the construction. The basis of the report changed once we seen that other construction companies and other companies gives us priceless tools to help us. These tools are mere checklist and data sheets that govern sites, but the impact is far greater than what we anticipate. By following these tools we are getting our sites on the right track so as to say.

Public liability was just an example we saw in the results, but the principal was the mindset that theses construction companies have. Some solutions they look for are just to pay and get problems away and get on with the task rather than to actually find a proper solution.

Other point that was in the results and came up again and again is laws and the breaking of laws. The occupational health and safety act should be the basis of any company and followed to the tee, yet it is seen as distractions and unimportant aspects that take up time. These acts promote the employment of qualified safety personal on site. For these companies it is seen as an extra salary and expense.

These personal with these checklist and templates could improve the safety of sites, and in turn reduce accidents. What construction companies fail to realize is that these accidents are more expensive than the actual prevention used to stop it. The mindset is that it is a business and that maximum profit should be the main and only goal, which partly right yet at what cost should it come at?

This comes down to the point of ethics and morals. Are we selling our ethics and morals for a few bucks? We are playing with lives, somebody father, brother, cousin, son etc, we should stop treating these employees as people part of the working chain and rather treat them like a human that they are. The problem is that the guys on top do not realize the life that the general workers on the site have to go through. If they probably lived them life for a week they will probably empathize and sympathizes with them. Most of them have a hard life and they there to earn them bread and butter and make the guy on the top rich at they own lives expense literally. Do these directors care about this? The bottom line is that workers on site should be treated as they can't be replaced, because although on site they may be, at home they can't. Once this attitude is adopted then the ethics gears can start working and start working the motor for better safety practices and happier and more productive staff on site.


Solutions are evident and be already discussed during the whole report, in the sections of results and conclusion. We are going to take a few of them and put them down as solutions and alternate solutions.

The first and most important one is that of the templates and checklists, these tools should be used in conjunction with a safety representative. These are mere guidelines of what to do before construction, during construction and after construction. These tools constitute as part of a planning factor also.

Planning is important on any site and although it is a solution on its own, the tools developed by theses checklist and templates are in itself a way of planning also. This is the primary solution for this project. Initially this was supposed to be a report on how to save money from literally buying and spending and stopping spending on important safety gear to save money in the long run. As the report progressed we see a bigger picture, that health and safety is not only in monetary terms rather it is in plans, checklists, methods, laws and so many more. We need to use these tools to help manage sites and ultimately increase the awareness of health and safety on site.

The other point was that of using alternate "solutions", which are more of "pushing the problem away" solutions that are used in the example of public liability insurance in this report. This "solution" should be kicked out the window so as to say as it is not solving the problem but pushing it away and deal with it at another time.

The other solution was a simple one, obey the law! It is important as a citizen to obey all the rules and regulations of the country including laws on health and safety. If greater fines and pressure were to be put on these companies regarding these laws then they would be forced to exercise therm. These laws are not burdens and should not be seen as burdens. However any expense is seen as one. This mindset needs to change as not every expense is a waste of money leaving the hand, as the famous saying is to make money you have to spend money.

The final solution is something that can be talked in great lengths however it will bring us to the same point and that is of moral ethics and good human values. There is a famous saying that that no one life is more important than the next. We need to implement this. Start treating workers on site the same as you would treat your senior management. These workers have lives, and families just like any other, and by us putting they lives at risk by unsafe practices is inhumane. The lessons of how to treat another human being should not be taught at work or for that matter at the age of a working director. These should be instilled in us at birth as it is "human "quality. Even if we do not process this we are taught as children going up. Somehow we forget these qualities as we grow up and indulge in the rat race for money, these qualities should be re instilled in us through motivational talk and somewhat embarrassment if that is the only solution


Are you an:

❐ Owner/Operator ❐ Manager ❐ Supervisor ❐ Employee ❐ Other (specify): ❐ r

Are you:

❐ Male ❐ Female

Which of the following is your age category?

❐ 15-19 ❐ 20-24 ❐ 25-29 ❐ 30-34 ❐ 35-39 ❐ 40-44 ❐ 45-49 ❐ 50-54 ❐ 55-59 ❐ 60+ ❐ r

How many workers are/were employed at your most recent workplace? Check only one answer.

❐ 2 to 5 workers ❐ 6 to 10 workers ❐ 11 to 21 workers ❐ More than 21 workers❐ N/A ❐ d/k ❐ r

Is/was your most recent work:

❐ Full-time ❐ Part-time ❐ Casual/Auxiliary ❐ d/k ❐ r

In total, how long have you been working?

❐ less than 1 yr ❐ 1 to 2 yrs ❐ 3 to 5 yrs ❐ 5 to 10 yrs ❐ 10 to 20 yrs ❐ 20+ yrs ❐ d/k ❐ r

I am going to read a list of 5 possible workplace priorities. I will then ask you to think about your total work experience and tell me generally how important each priority was in the place you worked. I will then ask about your current workplace.

Looking at your total work experience and using a scale where "1" means "most important" to "5" meaning "least important", please rank how important you think the following priorities have been:

❐ Producing a quality product or providing quality service______________________

❐ Ensuring customers are happy with the service or product they have purchased___________________________________________________________

❐ A safe workplace ___________________________________________________

❐ Keeping costs down _________________________________________________

❐ Maintaining a high level of production ___________________________________

❐ n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

Looking at your most recent workplace only, how would you rank those same priorities:

❐ Producing a quality product or providing quality service _____________________

❐ Ensuring customers are happy with the service or product they have purchased ___________________________________________________________________

❐ A safe workplace ___________________________________________________

❐ Keeping costs down _________________________________________________

❐ Maintaining a high level of production ___________________________________

❐ N/A ❐ d/k ❐ r

Looking at the same items and rating scale, in your most recent workplace how do you think:

your fellow workers would rank them/would have ranked them?

❐ Producing a quality product or providing quality service _____________________

❐ Ensuring customers are happy with the service or product they have purchased ___________________________________________________________________

❐ A safe workplace ___________________________________________________

❐ Keeping costs down _________________________________________________

❐ Maintaining a high level of production ___________________________________

❐ n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

your immediate supervisor would rank them/would have ranked them?

❐ Producing a quality product or providing quality service _____________________

❐ Ensuring customers are happy with the service or product

they have purchased __________________________________________________

❐ A safe workplace ___________________________________________________

❐ Keeping costs down _________________________________________________

❐ Maintaining a high level of production ___________________________________

❐ n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

the management in general would rank them/would have ranked them?

❐ Producing a quality product or providing quality service _____________________

❐ Ensuring customers are happy with the service or product they have purchased ___________________________________________________________________

❐ A safe workplace ___________________________________________________

❐ Keeping costs down _________________________________________________

❐ Maintaining a high level of production ___________________________________

n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

Does/did your workplace have well established, written safety values - sometimes called beliefs and principles? "Written" means readily available in a document, posted on the bulletin board, etc. Check only one answer.

❐ yes

❐ no

❐ n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

Which of the following statements do you think best describes those values:

❐ We have safety values and they are up-to-date, well understood and have an important influence on safety.

❐ We have safety values and they have some influence on safety.

❐ We have safety values but they are not used much and they have little influence on safety.

❐ n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

To what extent do you think managers at your most recent workplace are/were held accountable for injuries and safety incidents in their areas? ("Manager" includes such titles as supervisor, foreman, superintendent, team leader, etc.) in your workplace: Check only one answer.

❐ Managers are/were held fully accountable for preventing injuries and incidents in their area.

❐ Managers are/were held accountable for preventing injuries and incidents in their area but safety performance does not generally affect their performance rating and pay.

❐ Managers are/were held accountable for injuries and safety incidents but only in a general way.

❐ Managers take/took some responsibility for injuries and incidents in their areas; most injuries are attributed to individual error, bad luck or unfortunate circumstances.

❐ Injuries and incidents are/were almost always blamed on individual error, bad luck or unfortunate circumstances.

❐ n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

To what extent have you received training in safety and occupational health in the last two years. Training includes both 1) formal training courses away from the job and 2) organized on-the-job training. Check only one answer.

❐ Extensive training

❐ Considerable training

❐ Some training

❐ Little training

❐ No training

❐ n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

Are/were safety meetings held in your workplace?

❐ no

❐ don't know

❐ Yes

How often? __________________________________________________________

❐ d/k ❐ r

Do/did you attend the safety meetings regularly?

❐ yes ❐ no ❐ d/k ❐ r

How do/did you rate the quality and effectiveness of the safety meetings? Please consider 1) how well attended they are/were, 2) the content of the meetings and 3) the extent of involvement of people in developing and conducting them.

❐ Excellent ❐ Good ❐ Satisfactory ❐ Poor ❐ Very poor ❐ d/k ❐ r

Please consider the quality of the safety rules in your workplace. High quality rules are up-to-date and clearly written. They are well understood by those doing the work and help them to do the job well and safely.

The quality of your safety rules is/was: Check only one answer.

❐ Excellent ❐ Good ❐ Satisfactory ❐ Poor ❐ Very poor ❐ n/a ❐ d/k ❐ r

To what extent are/were the safety rules of your workplace obeyed? Check only one answer.

❐ All safety rules are/were obeyed without exception.

❐ People generally obey/obeyed the safety rules.

❐ The safety rules are/were guidelines, sometimes followed, sometimes not.

❐ The safety rules are/were often not obeyed.

❐ People pay/paid little attention to the safety rules.

❐ N/A ❐ d/k ❐ r

In your opinion how is/was disciplinary action used in your workplace for infractions to safety rules or practices. "Infraction" means breaking a safety rule or not following a standard practice. Disciplinary action refers to the range of actions, from a cautionary conversation or warning through to more severe action such as termination. Check only one answer.

❐ Disciplinary action, related to the seriousness of the infraction, is/was taken for all safety infractions.

❐ Disciplinary action is/was taken only for serious safety infractions.

❐ Disciplinary action for safety infractions is/was applied arbitrarily and inconsistently.

❐ Disciplinary action is/was seldom taken for safety infractions.

❐ N/A ❐ d/k ❐ r

To what extent are/were injuries, safety incidents (near misses and the like)

in your workplace investigated, reported and action taken? Check only one answer.

❐ all are/were thoroughly investigated and the recommendations implemented.

❐ Most are/were investigated and most of the recommendations are implemented.

❐ many of the injuries and incidents are/were investigated and some of the recommendations are implemented.

❐ only the most serious are/were investigated.

❐ Injuries and incidents are/were not usually investigated.

❐ N/A ❐ d/k ❐ r

20.1 Have you ever taken time off work due to an injury or disability?

❐ Yes ❐ no ❐ N/A ❐ d/k ❐ r

How much time did you take off? _________________________________________

20.2 in the past year, have you taken time off work due to an injury or disability?

❐ yes ❐ no ❐ N/A ❐ d/k ❐ r

How much time did you take off? _________________________________________

Title page




Table of Contents

Introduction-introduction, problem statement, research objective

Lit Review-intro, lit review

Methodology-Research approach and data collection ,data analysis, research limitations




References and bibliography

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