Although the construction industry is the second largest industry in the United States of America and employs nearly two million people every year, it is considered as one of the most hazardous and unsafe industries to work in. This is due to harsh working conditions and highly complex activities that lead to increased exposure of workers to accidents and injuries.
According to Pattullo (2007), the construction industry is also characterized by a wide range of dangerous activities that increase the exposure of workers to risky and unsafe working environments. Moreover, the industry has also been experiencing a rapid increase in the number of accidents among workers. Hughes and Ferrett (2007) also affirm that the number of accidents and injuries encountered by workers in the construction industry still remains absurdly high. For example, Lewin and the University of Western Sydney (2012) reported that the rate of accidents in the construction industry increased by twenty-one percent between January and December 2009. Lewin and the University of Western Sydney (2012) further argue that the number of accidents and injuries in the industry is expected to increase steadily at the rate of twenty percent per annum due to an increase in demand for housing facilities and influx of infrastructural development projects which have led to massive construction activities, tight working schedules, and employment of non-qualified personnel in the industry to supplement reduced labor.
According to Pattullo (2007), the rate of accidents and injuries in the construction industry is three times higher than accident rates in other risky industries, for example, mining. Moreover, the increase in accidents in the construction industry has also been attributed to lack of full implementation and strict adherence to various legislations, such as the Health and Safety Employment Act and Construction (Head Protection) Regulations Act of 1989 (Amended 2002) that regulate the industry (Selwyn, 2010).
Most accidents and injuries in the construction industry usually result in the loss of thousands of lives. Safe Site New Zealand (2009) also asserts that accidents in the construction industry are very costly and often lead to the loss of lives and valuable properties, the decline in profits, and reduced the productivity of construction firms. Thus, there is an urgent need to prevent and control the rapid increase in the rate of accidents within the industry. In my opinion, this can only be achieved through proper health and safety management. Therefore, adequate preventive measures should be taken to ensure that workers are safe and less exposed to dangerous working conditions. For my part, adequate health and safety management in the construction industry is vital not only to people employed in the industry but also to the future of the construction industry as a whole. I believe that proper health and safety management would facilitate growth and development of the construction industry.
In that regard, this research proposal seeks to find out the most appropriate ways of managing the health and safety of workers in the construction industry. This proposal is aimed at exploring and establishing suitable health and safety management techniques that would help in reducing accidents and injuries in the construction industry. It also recommends various courses of action that can be taken by major stakeholders to ensure good health and safety of workers in the construction industry.
The problem statement of this research proposal is “How can good health and safety management in the construction industry be attained effectively and efficiently?” As stated earlier, this research proposal is aimed at establishing the most appropriate ways or techniques of attaining proper health and safety management in the construction industry. This will entail identifying various causes of accidents and injuries in the industry, as well as challenges faced by workers and employers in the workplace in relation to health and safety management. Moreover, this research proposal would also recommend alternative solutions to these challenges that would enable workers and employers to achieve effective health and safety management in the construction industry. This proposal will also discuss the benefits of excellent health and safety management in the industry.
The rationale for the Research
The subject of this research proposal has been developed from the need to reduce accidents and injuries in the construction industry that may result from improper health and safety management. As Lewin and the University of Western Sydney (2012) state, recently, the construction industry has been experiencing a rapid increase in the rate of fatalities. A detailed review and critical analysis of these fatalities reveal that they are caused by preventable factors. Thus, adequate health and safety management would greatly help in minimizing accidents, injuries, and fatalities in the industry. The rate of accidents in the construction industry is also higher than the accident rates in other industries. Thus, there is a need for this rate to be reduced.
The hypothesis of this research proposal is “Proper health and safety management will result in reduced accidents, injuries, and fatalities in the construction industry.” In order to test this hypothesis, the research proposal will use two types of research methods or approaches, namely primary research and secondary research methods, to collect data. Through primary research methods, the researcher will collect data about the research topic using a structured survey approach in the form of questionnaires and interviews. Primary research methods are deemed to be the most appropriate because of their ability to provide the first-hand information. Moreover, primary research methods are also suitable for use where a large number of respondents are required.
On the other hand, secondary research methods would be used to collect data or obtain information on the state of health and safety of workers in the construction industry. Secondary research methods will involve an exhaustive review of available sources such as textbooks, newspaper articles, academic journals, organizational reports, and official publications from firms and government agencies that offer reliable, credible, and invaluable information relating to the research topic.
Definition of Terms
This is a sector of the economy that deals with the creation and maintenance of infrastructures, such as buildings and transport networks like roads and railways. The construction industry utilizes skills, knowledge, and expertise from the fields of architecture and engineering.
Health and Safety Management
This refers to a set of organized efforts, guidelines, and procedures that are used by organizations to identify and classify various dangers or hazards in the workplace that workers are likely to encounter and ways of reducing exposure of workers to such hazards. Griffith (2008) defines health and safety management as the process of identifying workplace hazards, risks of exposure of workers to harmful situations, and development and implementation of appropriate policies or measures to protect workers from dangers in the workplace. Health and safety management includes actions and measures such as accident prevention techniques, response to accidents, and emergency preparedness that are aimed at providing protection of workers in the workplace. It concerns ensuring ultimate safety, health, and welfare of workers.
Health and Safety Policy
This is a written document that outlines various issues related to the health and safety of workers within an organization. Health and safety policies also outline accident prevention techniques and courses of action to be taken in case of the occurrence of accidents. These policies also lay down rules and regulations that govern and administer behaviors of workers in the workplace.
Health refers to a state of the optimal functionality of the body of an individual (Edlin, Golanty, & Brown, 2011). This includes physical, psychological, mental, and emotional functionalities.
Safety signs are sets of symbols, signals or warnings used by an organization to inform workers about various hazards and risks in the workplace. Safety signs are usually used to notify workers of the presence of particular hazards or the likelihood of the occurrence of an accident or injury in the workplace. Safety signs are usually used to guide and control the behaviors and movements of workers in the workplace. Safety signs often have different meanings and functions.
Safety refers to the condition of being guarded or protected against harmful situations. Safety concerns protection against factors that may cause physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual harm. According to Ridley (2010), safety is the state of being protected from any factor or condition that is likely to cause harm to an individual. Ridley (2010) further clarifies that a factor or condition must be deemed undesirable by the victim in order to be considered unsafe. In relation to this research proposal, safety will refer to the process of preventing, controlling, and managing identified hazards in the workplace in order to reduce exposure of workers to such hazards.
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The construction industry is one of the most dynamic and innovative industries in the world. This is due to the high rate of technological advancements in the industry. The dynamism and innovativeness of the construction industry have led to the emergence of numerous challenges and problems. One of the major challenges currently faced in the industry is an increased number of accidents and injuries that threaten the health and safety of workers. As a consequence, there has been a pressing need to improve health and safety management within the construction industry.
In my opinion, good health and safety management is paramount to ensure continuous growth of the industry, protection of the welfare of workers, and professional practice in the industry. For my part, ensuring the health and safety of workers is a key prerequisite for the growth and development of the construction industry because it will minimize the loss of human capital through injuries and deaths. Therefore, all stakeholders in the construction industry should make purposeful efforts through effective health and safety management in order to ensure that workers are safe in the workplace.
Moreover, I would also assert that the health and safety of workers should be a major concern to all stakeholders in the construction industry. For example, construction firms should give necessary on-site training and education to workers to reduce their exposure to hazards in the workplace. Similarly, federal and state governments should formulate and fully implement occupational health and safety policies to govern employees and employers. The federal and state governments should also ensure that construction firms strictly adhere to the provisions of various legislations, for example, the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations Act of 1989 (Amended 2002), that regulate the construction industry. In my view, this would help in ensuring that construction workers are healthy and safe in the workplace.
Finally, I would like to express my confidence that the recommendations for effective health and safety management that will be put forward in this research proposal would prove useful and helpful to many stakeholders in the construction industry.