1.1 Background of the study
The importance of the Construction Industry to national economies the world over cannot be over emphasized. According to Mike et al (2011), by 2020 construction will account for 13.2% of world GDP indicating an upward trend. This is seen in the provision of basic infrastructure such as road networks, commercial and residential buildings and facilities to the other sectors of economies. Also construction’s sizeable amount of economic growth is through backward and forward linkages since construction activities utilise goods and services from other industries. Despite the documented positive gains brought by the construction industry, there are negative attributes which are associated with construction work. Construction work is dangerous, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates at least 60,000 fatal accidents a year on construction sites around the world that is one in six of all fatal work related accidents. The Global Trade Union Federation puts the figure much higher at 108,000 with construction responsible for 30% of all work related accidents. The International Labour Organization (ILO) in an effort to improve and maintain safe working environment at work places has held general conferences through the years since 1937 deciding and adopting conventions and recommendations geared towards health and safety in construction works. One such is convention C167 cited as the Safety and Health in Construction Convention, 1988 which revised and adopted the Safety Provisions (Building) Convention of 1937. This Convention carries provisions which apply to all construction activities. Accordingly, each Member Country which ratifies this convention undertakes that it will, on the basis of an assessment of the safety and health hazards involved, adopt and maintain in force laws or regulations which ensure the application of the provisions of the Convention through technical standards or codes of practice, or by other appropriate methods consistent with national conditions and practice. Articles 8 and 10 of the convention require that the principal contractor, or other person or body with actual control over or primary responsibility for overall construction site activities shall be responsible for coordinating the prescribed safety and health measures and, in so far as is compatible with national laws and regulations, for ensuring compliance with such measures. Further, the national laws or regulations shall provide that workers shall have the right and the duty at any work place to participate in ensuring safe working conditions to the extent of their control over the equipment and methods of work and to express views on the working procedures adopted as they may affect safety and health and comply with the prescribed safety and health measures. Generally, the convention outlines the preventive and protective measures to the effect that appropriate precautions shall be taken to ensure that all workplaces are safe and without risk of injury to the safety and health of workers. Emphasis is also made in so far as information and training is concerned to the effect that workers shall be adequately and suitably informed of potential safety and health hazards to which they may be exposed at their work place and instructed and trained in the measures available for the prevention and control of, and protection against, those hazards. Reporting of accidents and diseases is important, hence national laws or regulations shall provide for the reporting to the competent authority within a prescribed time of occupational accidents and diseases. On implementation the convention directs that each member shall take all necessary measures, including the provision of appropriate penalties and corrective measures, to ensure the effective enforcement of the provisions of the Convention and provide appropriate inspection services to supervise the application of the measures to be taken in pursuance of the Convention and provide these with the resources necessary for the accomplishment of their task, or satisfy itself that appropriate inspection is carried out (Safety and Health Convention in Construction, 1988).
1.2 Statement of the problem
In 2015, B;S Mcheken contractors made a commitment to improve its safety, health and environmental management by getting certified to ISO 14001 0f 2004 and OSHAS 18001 of 2007. Four years down the line, the company is still to do Initial Document Evaluation (IDE) by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ), which is the standards governing body. The systems documents which done and completed three years ago are still being shelved and no implementation of the systems have taken place to date.
The suffering caused by accidents and illnesses to workers, their families and the public is incalculable. In economic terms, it is estimated that 4% of the world’s annual GDP is lost as a consequence of occupational diseases and accidents (ILO, 2009). The employer face costly early retirements, loss of skilled staff, absenteeism, and high insurance premiums due to work– related accidents and diseases. The cost associated with work related injuries, workers compensation, insurance premium, indirect costs of injuries, and litigation at B&S Mcheken Contractors in 2017 was $73 000, which must be a considerable proportion of the company’s annual budget considering it is a small to medium enterprise usually working on tight budgets.
Every year, a considerable amount of time is lost due to work related health issues and site accidents. From the result of accident investigations for the past five years on the causes of construction accidents and incidents, it was shown that 39.9% of site accidents at the organisation were caused by falls, 8.4% were struck by objects, 1.4% were caught in between incidents, and 8.5% were electrical shock. These accidents diminish the image of the company, and as a result there is shortage of skilled labour. The most disturbing issue is, even as thete are obvious OSH issues facing the company, no capex budget allocation is made available to to proactively address and contain the situation and promote improved occupational health and safety practices. It is with such concern that this study attempted to examine the factors affecting implementation of occupational health and safety measures in at B;S Mcheken Contractors’ construction sites.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study was to examine the barriers to effective implementation of good OSH management practices or measures at the company construction sites in Zimbabwe.
1.4 Objectives of the study.
The general objective of the study was to assess the level of Health and Safety Management practices of selected at B&S Mcheken Contractors in Zimbabwe.
In relation to B&S Mcheken construction sites in Zimbabwe, the specific objectives of the study were:
1) To determine the current occupational health and safety practices of the company
2) To identify the barriers to the operation of good Occupational Health and Safety Management at B&S Mcheken Contractors construction sites
3) To identify the Occupational health and safety practice related problems at the company
4) To identify the strategies to reduce the safety practice related problems.
1.5 Basic assumptions of the study
The basic assumption of the study was that the respondents would appreciate the purpose of the research exercise and that they would be accessible and corporative in answering the questions.
1.6 Significance of the study
This research work on completion will be significant to both academia and the industrial sector
as a whole. It will increase the body of knowledge and literature on the Occupational Health and Safety in the construction industry. The findings of this study will help bring to the attention of the stakeholders in the construction industry the importance of occupational health and safety culture in work places. The study also brings to light the fact that clients in a project contribute significantly towards the implementation of occupational health and safety measures in their building projects when such requirements are included the tender documents. Recommendations made at the end of this research will enable policy makers and management in the construction sector address issues that relate to Occupational Health and Safety Management in construction industry in general.
1.7 Limitations of the study
The scope of the study was rather narrow, focusing only on one company in a town with a lot of other contractors. The time frame for the research was just to three months. The research could have been more comprehensive and conclusive had the time frame for the study been longer and wider in scope. The prevailing economic conditions at the time of study was also not the best business environment and it could have had a lot of bearing on the operations of the company, promoting a lot of cost cutting and cutting corners by the company. Under a different economic operational environment, a similar research could possibly produce a different outcome. The research team was small in size and a larger team could have produced a different result.
1.8 Challenges faced
The researcher encountered a number of challenges in the process of carrying out the study. The spread of respondents identified in the sample in and outside Harare presented access problems in terms of transport and communication. This was overcome by use of e-mail communication as much as was practicable. The costs involved in transport, stationary, communication, typing, photo copying and binding were fairly high. This necessitated borrowing of financial and material resources to meet the cost and the deadline. Time frame for the preparation of the research proposal document was squeezed hence proper time management was essential in order to meet the set time target.
1.9 Delimitations of the study
Though the study was aimed at examining the barriers to good occupational health and safety (OSH) practices by small construction firms, the researcher narrowed it down and focused on the operations of B&S Mcheken Contractors.
1.10 Definition of the significant terms used in the study
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.
Near miss is any incident that could have resulted in an accident. Research has shown that, approximately, for every ten ‘near miss’ events at a particular location in the workplace, a minor accident will occur.
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. 9 Risk is the likelihood of a substance, activity or process to cause harm.
1.11 Organisational Background
B&S Mcheken Contractors was formed and register with the registrer of companies of Zimpambwe in 2010. The company has has three directors. The organisation is a member or an affiliate of two governing bodies, the Zimbabwe Buiding Contractors Association (ZBA) and the CIfoZ. As required by the law, the factories and works Act, the organisation registered with the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).
The company progressed from class E of the CIFoZ from its inception to class B to the present day. Its permanent staff has remained pretty much the same over the years in terms of its size though the labour turn over is generally high at the organisation. Most of the employees are hired on contract bases when the company gets a contract or a project to do. Over the years, the company has done a number of projects, civil and structural in nature, in and outside Harare. Mostly, the organisation engages in earth works, building, road construction, plumping, tilling and water reticulation, structural works and design, paving, electrical installations, water proofing and carpentry activities.
Since its inception, the company has executed over 60 projects of various sizes, and nature around the country.
1.12 Company organogram
B&S MCHEKEN CONTRACTORS ORGANOGRAM
1.13 Organisation of the study
This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one outlines the background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, objectives of the study delimitations of the study and the organization of the study. Chapter two outlines the relevant theories of the literature review in line with the objectives of the study. Chapter three gives the research design, the target population, sampling procedure and the sample size, data collection methods, the validity and reliability of data collection instruments and the operational definition of variables. Chapter four is about how the data collected was analyzed, interpreted and presented in line with the objectives of the study. Chapter five gives the summary of the findings, discussions, conclusions, recommendations and suggested areas of further research.