This research project looked into effective safety and health planning on construction sites. The objectives were: to identify various health and safety measures to help manage workers welfare on site, to identify negative factors affecting health and safety practices on site and to identify common site hazards experienced on site. Secondary datas were reviewed which were sourced from journals, magazines, newspapers and from online e-books, while the primary datas were sourced from respondents in the study area through distribution and collection of questionnaire forms. The results of the sampled questions on the questionnaire forms were subsequently analyzed thereof. From the findings, it was found that the health and safety measures that was perceived should be given more priorities are: site layout and planning, site tidiness, health & safety training, health & safety warning signs, first aid kits and accident reporting, personal protective clothing and good working environments/welfare facilities. From the findings on the negative factors affecting health and safety practices are: lack of attention from leaders, reckless action, poor safety conscientiousness of managers, lack of training, poor equipment maintenance, lack of experience of managers, lack of personal protective equipment, non-perfect safety and regulations, lack of protection in material storage and poor equipment on site. From the findings on the common site hazards befalling workers in construction sites are: roof-work, scaffolding, ladders, lifting and carrying, cement, excavation and demolition. It was concluded that the main factors resulting in inefficiency in health and safety on construction sites includes; ‘lack of attention from leaders’, ‘reckless action’ and ‘poor safety conscientiousness of managers’. Therefore, it was recommended that employers and contractors should provide suitable programmes that are consistent with national Laws and Regulations to ensure the health and safety of workers and also, site supervisory staff should be sensitized with Occupational Health and Safety and should share that knowledge with co-workers.
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Construction industry is an important part of the economy in many countries and often seen as a driver of economic growth especially in developing countries. According to Wahab (1989), the construction industry is a vital component of the Nigerian economy. Typically, construction industry contributes to 11% of gross domestic products (GDP) in most developing countries Giang and Pheng, (2010); while the central bank of Nigeria (CBN, 2007) noted that the construction industry provided 12% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in Nigeria. However many construction activities are inherently health and safety risks such as working at height, working underground, working in confined spaces and close proximity to falling materials, handling load manually, handling hazardous substances, noises, dusts, using plant and equipment, fire, exposure to live cables, poor housekeeping and ergonomics.
Williams (2002) opined that construction workers face more on the job injury and fatality risks than workers in any other professional field and that one out of every five workplace fatality involves a construction worker. Furthermore, construction sites are full of various dangers that have the potential to cause hundreds of thousands of injuries and a multitude of deaths each year. These sites are filled with heavy equipment and machinery, toxic substances, explosives and other dangerous conditions, all of which can cause serious injury or even death. Construction sites privy to injuries resulting from fires, explosions and falls from high-rise buildings or scaffolding.
The construction industry is one of the world’s major industries. Its achievement in rebuilding areas devastated by both natural and man-made disasters, and in providing power, services and communications to meet the rising needs and expectations of people throughout the world, has conferred great benefits on the human race. Despite mechanization, construction remains a major employer of labour – it often employs between 9 and 12 percent of a country’s working population and sometimes as much as 20%. There has, however, been a price to pay for this continuous growth and activity. Although it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics in an industry in which many accidents go undetected and unreported, in many countries known fatal accidents and those involving loss of working time, frequently exceed those in any other manufacturing industry.
In an urban context, health and safety accidents are relatively higher due to the fact that high rise buildings remain predominant with the fast-growing complexities of domain-wide construction projects to cope with modernizing cities arena and high demand for housing, offices, services and other infrastructures due to the high urbanisation. Despite its importance, therefore, construction industry is considered as being risky with frequent and high accidents rate and ill-health problems to workers, practitioners and end users.
During the past decade, the construction industry has borne an unparallel demand for health and safety in workplace. Technology has created expanded requirements and need for accident prevention at the workplace. Many tasks have become increasingly complex and demanding and their potential for serious injury has become heightened, as a result; construction industry has broadened its management functions to include the application of safety and health program has evolved from an obvious need for its services. Serious hazards, bad safety performance, the occupational safety and health and the continuous prodding by the labour movement have caused the promulgation of most safety program; health and safety in the workplace have created a new awareness of safety requirements for workers. Under its impact, existing safety and health laws have been expanded and new federal and state laws exerted even pressures on business. Despite the growing interest in appraising the industrial health and safety progress in order to reduce the death-toll, injury, industrial diseases and property loss, accident rates have been on the increase. But before getting immersed in details, it is worth trying to examine the attitudes to safety. Health and safety is universally desired and by implication that danger is something everyone wants to avoid. According to Prince Charles (2006), there is enormous satisfaction in achieving something which is potentially hazardous and which requires concentration and self discipline. The construction industry has therefore earned the reputation of being a dangerous or highly hazardous industry because of the disproportionately high incidence of accidents and fatalities that occur on construction sites around the world Smallwood and Haupt, (2008). Similarly Sohail (2009) labels construction industry as very hazardous. Internationally, construction workers are two to three times more likely to die on the job than workers in other industries while the risk of serious injury is almost three times higher. Ioannides Pisimisi and Papaioannou (2004) noted that bulldozers, backhoes, dump trucks, Lin and Mills (2010) noted that, the higher the investment in safety, the better the safety performance. However, personal observation by the authors reveals that keeping a project under budget is often accomplished at the cost of safety to construction workers. Evidence of the lack of reasonable care for labour is seen in different ways. For example, a contractor will skimp on required safety equipment for workers – such as hard hats, goggles, gloves, respiratory equipment, hire less experienced, cheaper labour to do work, hire fewer workers than required to keep the work site complaint with safety standards, use older and less efficient tools and equipments have a greater likelihood of harming construction workers all in a bid to keep the project under budget.
Construction safety and health management therefore deals with actions that managers at all levels can take to create an organizational setting in which workers will be trained and motivated to perform safe and productive construction work. The system should delineate responsibilities and accountabilities. It should also outline procedures for eliminating hazards and identifying potential hazards before they become the contributing factors to unfortunate accidents.
Contributing to the high rate of accidents and militating against effective health and safety on construction sites are those characteristics of the industry which distinguish it from the rest of the manufacturing sector and they also constitute the major statement of the problem. These are:
- Lack of awareness and understanding of safety and health measures by workers.
- The large numbers of illiterate workers who sees health and safety on site as waste of time.
- Constant neglect on safety and health practices by site professionals.
- Lack of communication between site managers and labourers leading to unforeseen accidents.
- Exposure of site professionals and workers to unfavourable weather on site.
The aim of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of health and safety practices on some selected construction sites. In other to achieve this aim, this project work is set out with the following objectives:
- To identify various health and safety measures to help manage workers welfare on site.
- To identify negative factors affecting health and safety practices on site.
- To identify common site hazards experienced on site.
This study is mainly on safety and health of workers on construction sites and right or privilege to an effective safe working environment. Hence, by quantitative analysis, through questionnaire survey, it is intended that the nature of challenge, to effective safety management shall be treated with much interest and review.
However, studies of this nature which require direct access (field survey) to participants in their various locations require:
(b) Mobility and identification of location/population of the study for ease of data interpretation
(c) High cost (funds) of reaching out to all concerned in the sample size.
The issue of site health and safety is extremely relevant since by failing to adhere to its principles, it affects its victims morally, financially, and psychologically. Furthermore, improving the health and safety management of the construction industry has repeatedly been shown to save lives, time and money including the general productivity of labour and economics of a country (Rwamamara, 2007; kikwasi, 2010).