Safety Culture in the Construction Industry: Changing behaviour through enforcement and education?

Dingsdag, Donald P., Sheahan, Vaughn L., & Biggs, Herbert C. (2006) Safety Culture in the Construction Industry: Changing behaviour through enforcement and education? In Clients Driving Innovation: Moving Ideas into Practice. The Second International Conference of the CRC for Construction Innovation, 12-14 March 2006, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast.


Currently in Australia, the number of injuries and deaths in the construction industry are at an unacceptable level. Despite similar types of labour process, technology and tradespeople, one of the reasons for the industry’s poor safety performance is that no standard safety management systems exist. Another factor is that the workforce is highly transient; with the mindustry relying largely on a small core of regular staff from the principal construction companies and on a large number of individuals and sub contractors from companies of varying sizes. The team members of this CRC for Construction Innovation funded research project are examining the efficacy of creating nationally standardised safety competencies across the Australian construction industry in order to standardise safety practice and to identify the necessary accompanying safety behaviours.

Another factor contributing to sub-optimal safety performance, identified by the research team,is the function of OHS regulation in the disparate Australian jurisdictions. Not only are there nine principal OHS Acts, but all of these appear to be too heavily focused on enforcing compliance, without providing the necessary educational function that must, out of necessity,accompany Robens type of legislation - which is performance based and dependent on self regulation. Focus groups and interviews with more than seventy key safety employees from ten of the eleven largest principal contractors in Australia indicate that, although self regulation is a cornerstone of performance based regulation, none of the enactments provide in detail what is specifically required to conform other than in the broadest generic terms. Another common concern raised is that often when regulators are approached to provide specific detail of how to conform they refuse to provide it because they may be held accountable in the event of resulting injuries or fatalities. Not furnishing the appropriate information and resources is contradictory and in contravention of the stated educational objectives espoused by the majority of the enactments.

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ID Code: 3802
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: The contents of this conference can be freely accessed online via the organisation's web page (see link).
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 19 Jul 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:25

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