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COSTS OF HEALTH AND SAFETY MANAGEMENT IN BUILDING SITES
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The construction industry is inherently hazardous. Thus, there is a need to make the construction site a safe place to work although the poor safety record remains a concern. The determination of the aggregate costs of health and safety programmes is considered a leap for achieving construction safety in construction project delivery. This study evaluated the costs of health and safety programmes in building project delivery. The study determined among others, cost-related factors affecting health and safety programmes, significant cost elements of health and safety programmes and determined the size of contractors’ expenditure on health and safety programmes. The finding of the study revealed that external monitoring and control requirements, level of education and training, and scope of work-related hazards are significant cost-related factors inhibiting contractors’ health and safety programmes. The overall costs of health and safety programmes included in tender for building work generally amount to 0.31%. This implies medium and large contractors’ in Eket allow 0.31% of the total project costs for health and safety programmes in building contracts. The study concludes that budgetary provisions for health and safety programmes in building projects requires significant improvement in order to improve health and safety performance in building project delivery.
1.1 Background of the Study
Construction Industry is indisputable for its overt position in the economy of any nation. However, the poor safety performance of the construction industry has continued to give international cause for concern staring challenge in its effort to tackle the developmental initiative of many nations including Nigeria. Workplace Health and Safety on its own is a global challenge to the sustainable development of our society and civilization. According to the International Labor Office (ILO), work related accidents and illness contribute 3.9 percent of all deaths and 25 percent of the world’s population suffers a minor/major occupational accident or work related disease in any one year (Smallwood, 2004). Other than the moral concerns, the economic cost is huge, this undermines the industry’s efforts towards sustainable construction and development.
Health and safety programmes were first introduced in Nigeria during the time of the British Colony (Onyejeji, 2011). These programmes ensured that occupational health workers were dispatched to industrial plants and other commercial undertakings, including plans for monitoring. The initiative led to legislation that produced the Labour Act of 1974, the factories Act of 1987, and the Workman’s Compensations Act 1987.Other relevant acts to occupational health and safety in Nigeria are Labour Acts 1990, and Workman’s Compensation Act 2004. Theoretically, the goal of regulatory policies is to isolate incidents where misinformation about health risks leads people to make non-optimal decisions in order to internalize the situations, where health and safety risks are not already realized in the market decision. Policy needs to strike a balance between the costs of prevention, borne by employers, and the costs of injuries and ill health which fall upon the individual and society.
Despite being among the countries that signed the occupational health and safety law in the Geneva Convention of 1981, the pathetic health and safety situation in Nigeria construction industry made Idoro (2008; 2011), to conclude that the contractors’ management efforts on occupational health and safety, do not reflect in their scope of operations and the accident and injury rates of the Nigerian construction industry are high, as there are many collapse building and structures everywhere, workers falling off height, because they didn’t wear their body harness, etc.
One factors stand-out clear about the low level of safety performance in the Nigerian construction industry, that is, cost related concern (Okoye, 2013). Construction organizations increasingly argued that safety concerns are not well prioritized in the building sector compared to oil and gas industry (Onyejeji, 2011).
Now, with increased awareness and re-emerging interest to improve safety performance in the building sector (Idoro, 2011; Okoye, 2013), it is requisite to understand the cost implications of implementing safety practices in the Nigerian construction industry. According to Idoro (2011), a better approach to improve safety is to focus on proactive efforts dealing with the cost of mitigation. Against this backdrop, this study is targeted at improving state of existing knowledge about the magnitude of contractor’s cost on safety management programme.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
There is a high rate of accidents on construction sites across the globe but the developing countries have peculiar situation that calls for immediate attention. According to Adade-Boateng, Fuhar and Adinyira (2016), the construction industry continues to record high occupational accidents worldwide. The industry employs about 7% of the world's population and yet accounts for 30-40% of global occupational accidents (ILO 2005). In many developing countries, accurate statistics of injuries and fatalities in the construction industry are virtually non-existent due to poor recording and notification systems (Adade-Boateng, Fuhar and Adinyira, 2016). Ha¨ma¨la¨inen et al, (2006) argued that in spite of this, figures obtained are still used as a "baseline for occupational safety work". Available data would suggest that accident rates in developing countries are 3–6 times greater than in the developed countries (Jason, 2008). Idoro (2011) observed that contractor’s management efforts on occupational Health and Safety does not reflect the scope of operation. Some organisations don’t give the protection of their workforce the priority it deserves. This is due to the lack of knowledge, skills and motivation, or limited staff resources (Chapman and Ward, 2003). Previous research also stated that cost is also an important factor responsible for the poor Health and Safety Performance in the construction (Smallwood, 2004). Cost is a critical criterion determining contractor’s decision to invest.
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