Construction Health and Safety in Developing Countries
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Construction Health and Safety in Developing Countries

Patrick Manu, Fidelis Emuze, Tarcisio Abreu Saurin, Bonaventura Hadikusumo, Patrick Manu, Fidelis Emuze, Tarcisio Abreu Saurin, Bonaventura H. W. Hadikusumo

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eBook - ePub

Construction Health and Safety in Developing Countries

Patrick Manu, Fidelis Emuze, Tarcisio Abreu Saurin, Bonaventura Hadikusumo, Patrick Manu, Fidelis Emuze, Tarcisio Abreu Saurin, Bonaventura H. W. Hadikusumo

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About This Book

The global construction sector is infamous for high levels of injuries, accidents and fatalities, and poor health and well-being of its workforce. While this record appears in both developed and developing countries, the situation is worse in developing countries, where major spending on infrastructure development is expected. There is an urgent need to improve construction health and safety (H&S) in developing countries. The improvement calls for the development of context-specific solutions underpinned by research into challenges and related solutions.

This edited volume advances the current understanding of construction H&S in developing countries by revealing context-specific issues and challenges that have hitherto not been well explored in the literature, and applying emergent H&S management approaches and practices in developing countries. Coverage includes countries from the regions of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. This book, which is the first compendium of research into construction H&S issues in developing countries, adds considerable insight into the field and presents innovative solutions to help address poor H&S in construction in developing nations. It is a must read for all construction professionals, researchers and practitioners interested in construction and occupational H&S, safety management, engineering management and development studies.

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Publisher
Routledge
Year
2019
ISBN
9780429848537

1 An introduction to construction health and safety in developing countries

Patrick Manu , Fidelis Emuze , Tarcisio Abreu Saurin and Bonaventura H. W. Hadikusumo

Summary

In many countries, the construction industry has an unenviable reputation in terms of the occupational safety and health of the workforce. Occupational injuries and illnesses are highly prevalent in the construction industry compared to other industries. The situation in developing countries is worse than in developed countries. However, the bulk of construction occupational safety and health (OSH) literature has focused on issues in developed countries. Seeking to address this imbalance, this edited collection, which is the first of its kind, focuses on construction OSH in developing countries. This introductory chapter highlights the disparity in OSH performance in developed and developing countries, and juxtaposes this against the limited body of research on construction OSH in developing countries. The chapter presents some benefits, challenges and opportunities regarding construction OSH in developing countries and then closes with a summary of the chapters in the book.

Introduction

In many countries, the construction sector is notorious for high levels of occupational accidents, injuries and illnesses (see Health and Safety Executive [HSE], 2018a; Bureau of Labour Statistics, 2018). It not uncommon to hear of tragic incidents in the construction sector that result in physical harm, death or illness to workers and members of the general public. While this state of affairs lingers in both developed countries (described here as high-income economies) and developing countries (described here as low- to middle-income economies) (World Bank, 2019), the occurrence of occupational injuries and illnesses is direr in developing countries (Hämäläinen et al., 2006; Takala et al., 2014). With global construction estimated to grow by an unprecedented 85% to about US$15.5 trillion by 2030 (Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics, 2015), it is worth noting that the current status of occupational safety and health (OSH) in construction in developing countries could get worse with growing investments in the construction sector to address infrastructure needs. There is thus an urgent need to improve OSH in construction in developing countries. When implementing action for improvement, however, cognisance should be taken of the fact that the construction industries of developing countries are at different phases of OSH maturity compared with their developed counterparts (Finneran and Gibb, 2013). Therefore, while some of the established OSH management practices in developed countries may work in the context of developing countries with little or no modifications, others may not. This then also calls for the development of context-specific solutions underpinned by research to deal with OSH challenges in developing countries. Against this backdrop, this book, which is the first edited book to focus on construction OSH issues in the context of developing countries, includes chapters that (1) reveal context-specific challenges that have hitherto not been well explored in the existing literature; (2) show the application of OSH management practices in known and novel ways to help improve the OSH situation; and (3) advance innovative practices and thinking to improve construction OSH in developing countries. Coverage includes countries from regions in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe.
This introductory chapter highlights the status of OSH in the construction sector while drawing attention to the poor performance in developing countries. This is further juxtaposed against the relatively limited body of research on construction OSH in developing countries, thereby providing a sound case for a dedicated book collection on the subject. Subsequently, we present some benefits, challenges and opportunities regarding construction OSH in developing countries and then close with a summary of the chapters in the book.

The status of construction occupational safety and health performance

In both developed and developing countries where the construction industry makes major contributions to the gross domestic product (GDP), the negative impact of OSH performance on the working population is evident. For example, in the United Kingdom (UK), the industry recorded the second highest number of occupational fatal injuries (i.e. 38) in 2017–2018, while in Malaysia the industry recorded the highest number of fatalities in 2017 (i.e. 111) (Department of Occupational Health and Safety, 2018; HSE, 2018b). In terms of the occupational health of workers, in the UK, the prevalence rate of self-reported illnesses in construction is higher than the average rate in all industries (HSE, 2018a). Generally, these statistics reflect the ubiquity of OSH hazards (e.g. dust, noise, manual handling, working in confined spaces and working at heights) in the construction industry.
For the workers and their associates, especially in construction in developing countries, involvement in the industry has produced unimaginable loss through occupational diseases and injuries (Smallwood and Emuze, 2016). As rightly illustrated by Takala et al. (2014), OSH incidence rate is associated with the socio-economic development of a country, such that less developed countries record higher prevalence of OSH incidence than more developed countries.
Furthermore, the project-based nature of the construction industry is a significant contextual issue in relation to OSH. For instance, the way in which work is organised determines how OSH challenges could be tackled on site because of dispersed project control systems, temporary worksites, multiplicity of trades and cultures, high level of subcontracting and casual employment (Lingard and Rowlinson, 2005; Emuze and Sherratt, 2018; Emuze and Mollo, 2018). Additional barriers to OSH improvement include traditional separation of design and construction through the excessive use of the design–bid–build delivery method, competitive tendering that leads to the awarding of contracts to the lowest bidders at the expense of standard services and deliverables, the mushrooming of small contractors with dismal OSH records, reliance on subcontracting for the physical execution of work on sites and the lack of good communication as well as cooperation among project actors (Manu et al., 2013; Neale, 2013). Another significant barrier to OSH improvement is the overemphasis on project and business performance parameters in construction at the expense of the health, safety and well-being of people in the industry.
While the general poor status of OSH in construction has instigated a plethora of construction OSH studies over the past three to four decades (e.g. papers in CIB W099 conference proceedings, OSH-themed papers in the Association of Researchers in Construction Management Conference proceedings, and many articles in OSH and construction journals), construction OSH studies have largely focussed on issues pertaining to developed countries. To illustrate, a review of design for OSH studies in construction (published in journals from 1992 to 2016) showed that an overwhelming majority of the studies (i.e. over 90%) focussed on developed countries (Manu et al., 2018, 2019). This state of affairs has resulted in significant gaps in the knowledge of construction OSH issues in developing countries, which this book makes an important contribution towards addressing.

Improving construction OSH in developing countries: Benefits, challenges and opportunities

Improved OSH performance benefits all stakeholders involved in the construction industry (Hughes and Ferrett, 2008; Ikpe, 2009; HSE, 2017; Gibb et al., 2018). There is no dispute that workers are the primary beneficiaries, given that their physical integrity and long-term labour capability are at stake. From a business perspective, construction companies and owners also reap the fruits of better OSH, since OSH incidents impose high costs and affect productivity and quality (Wanberg et al., 2013; Love et al., 2015; HSE, 2017; Gibb et al., 2018). In addition, safer construction sites are less likely to be shut down by government inspectors. Last, government and society as a whole are positively affected by better OSH outcomes in many ways, namely health care systems will be less burdened due to fewer OSH incidents; social security systems will be less burdened due to lower compensations and early retirements; large-scale public infrastructure and housing projects may be less expensive in the long run; and the construction industry will be more attractive to young people.
However, obtaining these benefits is not without challenges, which tend to be greater in developing countries. Examples of these challenges include weak institutions for setting policy and enforcement; illiteracy; lack of or inadequate coverage of OSH in the education of construction professionals and workers; lack of or inadequate OSH training for construction professionals and workers; low awareness of OSH issues among industry stakeholders; lack of government leadership; and lack of client leadership (Baram, 2009; Awwad et al., 2016; Umeokafor et al., 2018; Manu et al., 2018, 2019). Furthermore, in developing countries the construction industry is traditionally seen by governments as a potential employer of high numbers of unskilled workers, whose qualifications are often compatible mostly with artisanal (and often intrinsically unsafe) construction technologies. As such, some governments discourage the use of modern technologies by overtaxing these, in order to pursue short-term goals of lowering unemployment rates.
On the other hand, developing countries present some unique opportunities to be explored and leveraged in order to address poor construction OSH. To some extent, these opportunities may be highly contextual and derive from the local culture, such as the involvement of community leaders and religious institutions that could help to raise the general awareness of OSH importance, given the important role religious leaders play in some developing countries (Umeokafor et al., 2018). Similarly, collaboration between academic and industry institutions offers the opportunity of win-win relationships, which at the same time may contribute to solving practical OSH industrial problems while educating students and professionals. Furthermore, developing countries may benefit from tested technologies and established regulations in developed countries, adapting them to their local context without starting from scratch. Lastly, given the higher OSH incidence in developing countries, it is possible that short-term positive results can be quickly obtained in some developing countries, setting a basis and motivation for sustainable results.

Overview of chapters

This book comprises 21 chapters grouped into 5 thematic parts as follows:
Chapter 1, ‘An introduction to construction health and safety in developing countries’: This introductory chapter underscores the need to pay attention to construction OSH in developing countries while highlighting the benefits, challenges and opportunities regarding addressing poor OSH performance in construction in developing countries. In so doing, the chapter sets the stage for the remaining chapters of the book.

Part I: Occupational health and safety legislation

Chapter 2, ‘Implications and opportunities in a complex construction health and safety regulatory environment’: In this chapter, Umeokafor and colleagues argue that the Nigerian construction industry is self-regulated, contrary to previous reports of the industry being unregulated. Through the use of semi-structured interviews with industry stakeholders, they evidence and explain the mechanism of self-regulation in the Nigerian construction industry while explaining the role played by various regulatory actors. Umeokafor and colleagues offer both positive and negative consequences of self-regulation of the industry. They argue that despite the poor status of construction OSH in Nigeria, self-regulation has not failed, but rather it is evolving. Nonetheless they acknowledge that the regulatory regime needs improvement and suggest some practical recommendations to achieve this.
Chapter 3, ‘Contractors’ compliance with occupational health and safety legislation in South Africa: The benefits of self-regulation’: In this chapter, Windapo and colleagues explain how contractors are meeting legislation and also self-regulating their activities over and above compliance requirements in South Africa. The chapter presents the levels of self-regulation and compliance to OSH laws with corresponding influence on the extent and severity of construction accidents on sites. It emerged that there is a major linear negative relationship between the level of contractor self-regulation and mishaps on site. In other words, the chapter reinforces the notion that OSH performs better on a site when project actors go beyond the remit of legislation in preventing harm to people in construction.
Chapter 4, ‘A narrative review of occupational safety and health legislation in Pakistan’: In this chapter, Qayoom and Hadikusumo study the OSH legislative framework in Pakistan related to the construction industry. They adopt a narrative review of research articles, annual reports and OSH legislation in developing countries to find the shortfalls of OSH legislation in Pakistan. They reveal inadequate legislative structure, outdated and fragmented laws, and lack of database management. Based on the findings, recommendations are suggested which include legislative reforms, capacity-building training, upgrading the reporting system and involvement of trade unions.
Chapter 5, ‘Safety law, system and regulation influencing the construction sector in India’: In this chapter, Duddukuru a...

Table of contents