1.1 Background of Study
The building construction sector is a very hazardous one, as other construction sectors experiencing very frequent accident cases. This sector is very vital to all other industries as it provides the environment for their operation Jimoh (2012). Shelter is one of mans basic necessity in life, the quest for the provision of adequate housing has led to an increase in the activities of the building construction industry in Nigeria. Little or no attention is paid to the safety of the workers who see to the realization of these buildings; they are mostly illiterate and are ignorant of their rights and privileges. Construction safety is an issue which affects the global construction industry; concerns usually arise whenever major construction activities are to take place Hinze (2007). The reality on ground is that accidents and injuries continually occur on construction sites, some even leading to loss of lives. Most employers fail to provide a safe and conducive working environment while in some cases the workers use the facilities inappropriately, these practices have implications to the workers themselves, the construction company and even the society at large Ikechukwu, Dorothy & Ashem ( 2012). There has been much improvement in safety issues as regard to the construction industry, it should however be noted that there is room for more improvement especially in developing nations, Nigeria inclusive. In an urban context, 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 urbanization. The problems experienced are not restricted to a particular country as they cut across virtually all countries construction sectors. These problems tend to be more persistent in the poor developing nations than in the more developed richer nations. The construction industry in developing nations have performed far below expectation in the area of safety, Nigeria’s situation is worse as even the national building code approved by the national executive council in the year 2006 is not being enforced effectively till date. Safety during construction is usually not given priority in most developing nations like Nigeria as it is regarded to be a burden Godwin (2011). Safety records in these developing counties are usually poor Huang (2006). Okeola (2009) stated that there are no reliable data on construction accidents in Nigeria; this is because most contractors fail to report cases of accidents to the ministerial departments in charge of such occurrences, and they don’t keep proper records themselves. According to him, the Punch newspaper of July 2005 reported a case of the collapse of a four (4) storey building in Port Harcourt city, this incident led to the death of about 20 site workers. Such occurrences point to the fact that Nigeria building construction workers are constantly being made to work under unsafe conditions which pose danger to their lives. Deaths and permanent disabilities have occurred as a result of these poor standards. This shows the government needs to enforce the available regulations to check these accidents. Idoro (2011) was of the opinion that accident and injury rates in Nigeria as at the year 2006 were 2 accidents per 100 workers and 5 injuries per 100 workers, these rates were really not different between the indigenous companies and multinational companies. A number of challenges limit the performance of the construction industry in Nigeria, they include: lack of skilled labour, shortage of materials, power cuts etc Dantata (2008). Despite the introduction of mechanization in construction process, and advancement in technology the reality on most sites is that about 50% of manual labour is still utilized in these processes Okeola (2009). This high rate of manual labour implementation perhaps plays a significant role in the high accident rates recorded among workers in the construction industry.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Accidents occur frequently on building construction sites with little or no documentation. In recent years some workers have temporarily or permanently been disabled by work related accidents as a result of inadequate safety knowledge on handling machines, a result of inadequate safety knowledge on handling machines and equipment, neglecting to follow simple procedure in accomplishing task or contractors not providing the right safety standards and resources for employees. While some of these accidents are caused by the workers themselves (due to illiteracy, lack of commitment to work etc) some are caused as a result of the poor or none safety measures employed by the construction companies/site staff on site. Ede (2010) in a research about the casualty trends in the cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt reported the nature of casualties experienced in the building construction sector within the period of 2000-2010. His research revealed Lagos had the highest casualty rates followed by Abuja and lastly Port Harcourt city.
Onyeachi (1990), disclosed that accidents losses also fa ll back to the nation. Therefore the problem here is how to reduce or bring the rate of occurrence of these accidents to a minimal level. This research seeks to point out safety issues faced by workers on building sites and thereafter develop effective measures aimed at addressing them.
1.3 Aim and Objectives
This research is aimed at reducing incident of accident on building construction sites. To achieve this aim the following objectives were set out:
- Identify and rank the causes of accident on construction site
- Identify the effect of non adherence to safety measures on site
- Identify safety measures to be observed by workers to avoid or reduce site accident.
- Research Questions
- What are the causes of accident on building construction site?
- What is the effect of non adherence to safety measures on site?
- What are the safety measures to be observed by workers to avoid or reduce site accident?
1.5 Scope and Delimitation
This study will deal with the safety issues of Nigerian building construction site workers, using selected building construction sites in Ekpoma, Edo state. With the purpose of establishing critical issues affecting their welfare on site, identifying shortcomings on the building sites and making recommendations towards addressing the shortcomings. The study considered causes of accident, effect on non adherence to safety and safety measures to be observed by workers. A total number of five (5) sites were selected randomly. One of the construction sites were government projects while the other three (4) sites were owned by private individuals. During the course of the research work, time factor, invalid questionnaires, restriction of entry in some sites due to professional reasons, inability to meet all the respondents at the same time and language barrier (since interpreters were reluctant) were major hindrances.
1.6 Significance of Study
This research work would aid to create awareness on safety program for workers on site in order to reduce the number of workers compensation claims and cost due to accident and also lead to the enactment of legislation requiring employers to provide safe and healthful place of work. It is hope that this research work will help to reduce or minimize the high rate of accident on building construction site in Ekpoma.
It could also serve as guide to construction professional on safety measure to be followed on building production sites. It will contribute to the body of knowledge in the subject of health and safety in the building industry sector and it will also serve as a guide for subsequent researchers who want to embark on a similar topic.
1.7 Study Area
This study was carried out in Ekpoma, the administrative headquarters of Esan West Local Government area of Edo State. It lies between latitude 60 40oN 60 45oN and longitude 600 5oE 60 10oE Obabori, Ebosele and Mokidi (2006). The inhabitants of Ekpoma speak the language known as ‘Esan’ and are predominantly farmers whose main produce are rice and cassava. Before 1976, Ekpoma was characteristically rural with isolated settlements, few houses, health, educational, commercial and transportation facilities Olomo (1991). While the population was 13,036 by 1975, it rose to 45,489 in 1991 NPC (1992) and approximately 125,842 (63785 males and 62,057 females) in 2006 (NPC 2006). With only 8.62Km2 of the total 62Km of land used in 1979 Ufuah (1993), physical growth and expansion have increased to 29.28 Km2 by 2003(Aziegbe, 2006). It’s about 98km from Benin City the capital of Edo state with a highway from Benin City linked ekpoma to Auchi north ward.
1.8 Definition of Key Words
- Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease. This includes: The promotion and maintenance of physical, mental and social well being of workers, Prevention among workers of ill-health caused by the working conditions, Protection of workers in their employment from risk resulting from factors adverse to health, Placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physical and psychological equipment.
- Safety is identifying, evaluating and controlling workplace hazards and includes measures, methods or techniques or process to prevent human exposure to unsafe work practices, physical or even chemical agents. This may involve: Improving working conditions and safe methods of work, Reasonable hours of work, Provision of personnel protective equipment, Provision of first-aid and medical facilities.
- Welfare is the provision of facilities to maintain the health and well-being of individuals at the workplace.
- Accident is an unexpected, unwanted occurrence which interrupts or interferes with the orderly progress of work in an establishment by causing bodily injury to a person making him unfit to resume duty due to partial or total disablement or even death. It can also cause damage or loss to property, plant, materials or the environment.
- Hazards is a potential condition which might be converted into an accident. It is a state having potential to injure a person or impair ones health.
- Risk is the likelihood of a substance, activity or process to cause harm.
- Building is a structure comprising of roof and wall, which forms an enclosure capable of providing shelter (Scott, 1964).
- Construction is the process or method of building something especially road, building, and bridges. Oxford dictionary, 6th edition, (2000).