The project manager must effectively utilize all of the communication methods available to them. They must choose the most appropriate method of communication for the workers and for the managers. The more workers and managers hear the messages, in as many sensory modes possible, the more likely the message will be to make an impact on a reduction in accidents on the job.
Language proved to be a problem in Australia's construction industry. Many of the safety programs are conducted in English, although a significant portion of workers in the industry are non-English speakers. Communication proved to be a significant problem in the successful implementation of safety programs. The key factors were the inability to understand government safety regulations and the inability to communicate these standards to the workers (Trajkoevski & Loosemore, 2005). Project managers must be aware of language barriers that may hinder the ability to communicate safety messages to their workers.
Low English proficiency and its impact on the ability to maintain construction safety standards do not only affect countries where English is not the primary language (Trajkoevski & Loosemore, 2005). For instance, in the United States, low English proficiency can occur due educational factors or as a result of the high number of migrant workers. The project manager must be aware of these circumstances and modify the message so that it reaches every population on the construction site. It is not enough to deliver the message. The message must be delivered in a way that can be understood by those who need to receive it.
The project manager must take measures to make certain that the right message is heard by the right people at the right time. They are the first link in the communication chain that travels down to the worker performing the task. The project manager must make certain that the message can be understood by those for whom it is intended. Miscommunication at this level can have dire consequences in terms of project safety and the ability of the project manager to eliminate accidents on the job.
The Project Manager as a Facilitator
In many cases, the actual work is performed by a subcontractor. They are required to provide workers with instructions and the safety equipment necessary in order to stay safe in the work environment. However, the project manager can play a major role in facilitation of training and safety measures. Not only can the project manager make certain that rules and regulations are in place to assure worker safety, they can take a proactive stance by performing inspections and providing incentives for contractors that make an extra effort to ensure worker safety.
Knowledge is the most important tool in the ability to sty safe. Requiring contractors to hold regular safety meetings with their workers can be an important way to stress safety and to address any concerns that they may have as well. The project manager must set the tone in terms of stressing the importance of taking a proactive stance on safety.
The project manager can take many actions that stress the importance of safety. However, safety is not a one-way street and workers must feel that they have a means to express their concerns. They must feel that if they have a complaint, it will not fall on deaf ears. A formal process for allowing employees to express concerns is an essential element to the communication process. Allowing workers to be a part of the process gives them ownership of the issue and will make more wiling to follow the protocols and guidelines, than if they are simply handed down with no worker input into the problem.
The project manager can be the most affective in achieving better safety on the construction site by developing rules and guidelines for use by contractors in maintaining acceptable safety standards. In this capacity, the project manager simply delegates the tasks that need to be done to those who can deliver the message.
How Can We Measure the Impact of the Project Manager on Safety?
As one can see, the project manager can take many actions the have a direct impact on safety issues on the construction site. They can also have an indirect impact on safety at the site by persuading others of the importance of safety practices. They are responsible for making certain that the regulations and procedures are in place to make certain that both workers and the public are safe from harm in the construction area.
However, it is difficult to measure the impact of the project manager on construction safety, as opposed to other factors that affect safety on the job. The safety record is the single quantitative tool in the measurement of safety on the construction site. The number of accidents, lost time accidents, and deaths are used to measure the effectiveness of new policies and procedures on the work site. Comparative analysis between similar construction sites can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of various programs. This is the most common tool for measuring program safety and the effectiveness of programs to reduce accidents on the worksite.
Several qualitative methods could be explored to assess their suitability in measuring project manager effectiveness. However, qualitative methods do not produce definitive results, as are found with quantitative research methods. Numerical data is available in the case of worker injuries. Trends in these statistics can be compared to changes in policy to determine if there is a correlation between the two factors.
One of the key difficulties with this type of comparative study is that although a correlation may be found between the two factors, it still does not lead to the conclusion that the two factors are related. There are many other variables that may account for the apparent correlation, therefore one cannot jump to conclusions about what appears to be correlated data demonstrates causality. This is of the key difficulties in performing an analysis using historical data. The researcher cannot manipulate the data collection parameters, therefore it if is difficult to evaluate the conclusions drawn in many research studies about the topic of construction safety. This was found to be the case with many of the studies found during the course of this research. The conclusions drawn by the authors had to be examined to make certain that they were valid.
Managing Construction Safety: An International Perspective.
Managing construction safety is a global problem. Sharing knowledge is a key to the development of standards and practices that work on many construction sites. Safety problems on construction sites differ little in regards to country or culture. Project managers around the globe face similar problems as their counterparts in other countries. Sharing knowledge is the foundation of the formation of effective policies in every country in the world. The following will examine studies regarding project management issues around the world.
One cannot underestimate the importance of policies in the maintenance of safety on a construction site. In study involving companies in Singapore, it was found that accidents were more likely to occur in companies that had poor or few policies in place (Teo & Chong, 2004). It was also found that accidents had a direct link to unsafe practices, poor attitudes regarding safety, poor managerial commitment to safety, and insufficient training and knowledge among workers (Teo & Chong, 2004). These factors represent key issues that could be used to diagnose and manage safety on the construction site.
The connection between improving safety and policies was tested in Australia with the introduction of Occupational Safety and Health (OHS) regulations (Loosemore & Andonakis, 2007). This study explored the effectiveness of OHS reforms in 2001 on improved worker safety. This shift in regulation was towards more self-regulation, consultative, performance-based management of construction safety. The study revealed that although the reforms represent a positive step towards improving safety, there are barriers that prevent the adoption of these guidelines. Small sized contractors experienced the greatest difficulty implementing the new regulations. The key barriers to implementation were found to be cost, language barriers, education barriers, and fear of change (Loosemore & Andonakis, 2007). OHS was meant to reduce the sense that workers are treated as just another resource (Boyd, 2003). It was meant to send the message that someone actually cared.
Although many of the risks involved in the construction industry are inherent to the nature of the occupation and are not based in culture, the response to these risks is quite different. In a study that compared risks in Australian construction projects and those in China it was found that the Chinese construction industry placed too much of the responsibility on the companies themselves (Zou, Zhang, & Wang, 2007). This was surprising, considering the strict regulatory environment in which Chinese companies operate.
Cultural diversity is typically considered to be an asset in many business communities. Cultural diversity means the…
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