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Health and Safety in Construction Industry
The construction industry is by far the most dangerous one as it takes more lives every year and results in many short- and long-term minor or severe injuries. The UK government regulatory bodies have been playing a significant role in ensuring that proper health and safety procedures are followed. Throughout the last four decades, its role has been impeccable in decreasing fatalities in the construction industry, although the excessive rules and regulations, frequent changes, bureaucratic structure and lack of project management and risk management techniques have dented its efficiency in protecting small construction companies and contractors, resulting in a compensation and claim culture engulfed with individual profiteers such as insurance companies, lawyers and health and safety consultants. These excessive regulations have pushed constructors to adopt some illegal practices in order to decrease cost and probability of claims from injured workers. The risk management and assessment measure provided to the constructors and other stakeholders are in development stage and a more concentrated effort is required from these regulating bodies to ensure a project management like approach is followed in public domain and private constructors.
Public bodies work in a certain way, a way that is different from private entities as it involves more procedures, assessments and most of the time politics that calls for a quick execution of a public project without much emphasis given to other related factors such as environment, safety or long terms usability. When assembling a building or infrastructure, public organisations besides other risk preventive initiatives, have the responsibility to ensure that risks related to health and safety are being catered to and prepared for, not only for the public but also for the civil workers. It is interesting to see that about 40% of all construction activities in the United Kingdom are undertaken by the government by outsourcing the work to private construction companies or by using the public mechanism. The role of government in reforming and rebuilding major parts of United Kingdom after World War II remains impressive although with time the industry requires more robust health and safety provisions for all involved parties. There have been major advancements in the field of constructions with new techniques and machinery, although the industry remains a dangerous one recording an average of 17 construction labourers killed every year only in public construction projects. 112 annual deaths were reported in all other industries while construction industry alone reported approx. 335 deaths in the year 2002 (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 2012).
The industry itself has seen major turnarounds or advancements and the number of fatalities reported have reduced during the past two decades. The industry only employs 5% of total employees in United Kingdom although about 27% of total fatal injuries are still related to construction industry as reported in 2010-2011 (HSE, 2011).
In order to better understand the causes and working of public organisations in relation to health and safety, the research report aims to analyse whether the current regulations and processes in place are good enough to achieve the necessary objectives that is minimizing fatalities and injuries.
The more specific research objectives covered in this research are;
1. To ascertain whether there are deficiencies in current project management practices, or the systems used by public sector related to risk management of health and safety issues in construction industry.
2. Highlight the effects these deficiencies have on the management of health and safety risks
3. Practical suggestions for catering such deficiencies.
There are many methods available through which research can be conducted however it is important to select the one which suits best the overall requirement of the objectives.
The best and most reliable research method must be applied in this case as it is a matter of health and safety. Without the discovery of deficiencies in the current system, the research would be useless. Therefore, discovering deficiencies would require a complete research from scratch.
The method used in conducting this research is explorative study as it is the best possible research method for this situation due to the fact the current problems are not defined properly yet and a research design along with data collection is required.
Exploratory study is used for problems that have not been defined clearly which is the reason why, explorative study helps in coming up with the best research design, data collection method and also, selection of subjects related to a specific research. The study is conducted with extreme precautionary measures.
The results must be reliable and since the current system is flawed, other research methods would fail to provide reliable results as the exploration of newer methods of increasing safety is the basic requirement which can be provided by explorative study in the best possible way.
It is important that the researcher is aware of the limitations inherited with to the specific approach which is employed for the research and the relevant limitations are duly addressed during the research.
An understanding of present practices by the UK government in relation to health and safety would be achieved by exploring various government regulatory websites, peer reviewed journals and conducted studies. Furthermore specific incidents will be taken in to account for highlighting the actual negligence and flaw in current practices prevalent in the construction industry.
Through explorative study, the deficiencies in the current system can be identified as a result of which, those deficiencies would be avoided in the future.
Construction includes development of building projects, while building these projects the workers are susceptible to incidents resulting in minor or major injuries or even death; hence the employer tries to ensure that the adopted health and safety protocols and policies are being followed (Political Deputy, 2010).
However, a proper check and balance is required and if there are some deficiencies in the current safety regulations, they must be recognised in both project management practices and public sector's construction industries. Once the deficiencies, if there are any are highlighted, various theories on how to improve the current system and develop new regulations will come to light. Practical application of those theories/plans will then be executed after the completion of the research process. As a result, a safer working environment would be ensured to the workers and the rate of injuries and death would hopefully decrease.
The major construction endeavours in UK are carried out by government itself and since the public officials and workers are known not to work in a systematic way preferring quick execution and image enhancement over protocols and procedures. The evolution of the project management techniques organisations have learned the processes of planning, organising, managing, securing, leading and controlling resources involved in a project used efficiently and effectively to reach the goals (Lewis, 2006). The project manager leads the project and is responsible to plan and execute the activities according to the timeline/Milestones. In the project initiation phase the project manager assess the risks attached to the project and plans for mitigation or prevention to these risks. Risk assessment is then an ongoing process throughout the lifecycle of the project.
Risk management is the process by which an identification, assessment and prioritisation is made for a risk followed by a coordinated effort and usage of resources in order to minimise the effects of a risk and future prevention (Hubbard, 2009).
Project managers are not health and safety experts nor can they be expected to conduct a full fledged health and safety inspection, although in order to cater the risks involved with construction projects the project manager should consider and plan for health and safety risks in the project planning phase (Langdon, 2011). An effective risk communication strategy can result in enhanced worker awareness and avoid any incidents. A risk evaluation process follows that caters to stakeholder perception of the risk and acceptability. The fifth phase is the risk control phase where control options are considered along with a decision related to control strategy. Implementation stage includes execution of risk strategy and the last stage is monitoring where implementation is monitored and changes are made to ensure viability to contingencies (HSE, 2011).
In public offices there exists a certain level of bureaucracy which engenders stagnation and mistrust. This phenomenon breeds many deficiencies in the construction projects and the bureaucratic behaviour of officials keeps workers from following essential health and safety laws embedding in them a casual behaviour towards their respective jobs (Power, 2004).
Current Practices and Key Findings
The construction industry is referred to as the most dangerous occupation in the world (See Figure 1), according to Health and safety executive (HSE), 50 fatal injuries occurred during 2010 -- 2011 and it is estimated that over 5000 cancer cases will occur due to past injuries and exposure in the construction industry (Cancer Burden Study, 2010) with 36000 new cases of minor and moderate work related illnesses are reported within the construction industry. The stakeholders in construction industry range from a simple worker to…[continue]
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