Behavioural Safety Issues for Construction Industry Employers to Consider

Behavioural Safety Issues for Construction Industry Employers to Consider

31st October 2016

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been taking a look at Behavioural Safety, starting with how to tell whether or not a behavioural safety programme would be appropriate for your construction company followed by an article on why workers take risks.  When it comes to research on health and safety, there are various factors that have been identified as a potential contribution to behavioural safety issues so that’s what we’re going to cover here today.

  • Alcohol and Other Drugs – a survey of Australian construction workers carried out in 2012 revealed that 58% were above the cut off score for hazardous alcohol consumption.  Considering global drinking habits, it’s likely that the figures would be similar in other countries, including Europe where alcohol consumption is usually higher.  When it comes to other drug use, it was found that 59% had used cannabis at some point during their lives, (with 16% admitting that they’d used it during the previous 12 months), while 40% had used Ecstasy or meth/amphetamine type substances (32% within the previous year).  People who take such drugs are considered high risk takers (they’re aware of the risks of their chosen “buzz” but chase the high anyway) and experts think they are likely to engage in other such high risk behaviour, such as not following the correct safety advice at work.
  • Training and Experience – skilled and experienced construction workers are less prone to risks than inexperienced workers and it’s human experience which influences safe or unsafe behaviour in the workplace.  It’s suggested that more than half of all accidents on construction sites happen within the victim’s first week at work which leads us to believe that training and site specific induction sessions are vital safety measures to adopt.
  • Tiredness – lack of sleep or any alteration to the usual sleeping pattern affects alertness and awareness, making an incident or accident more likely.  Whether it’s due to shift changes, clocks going backwards or forwards, alcohol/drug use or any other reason, tiredness leads to mishaps and mistakes, which in the construction industry (and especially when using access equipment to work at height or operating heavy machinery) are likely to have serious consequences.
  • Risky Behaviour due to Time Pressure – Recent studies have discovered that nowadays, stringent requirements to bring in projects within both deadline and budget puts unrealistic time constraints on them, leading to stress and a willingness to cut corners and take risks.  Time was a recurring theme throughout a study on safety on construction sites.
  • Safety Culture – this is really a combination of all of the other issues and is a sub-culture of organizational culture.  It comprises the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and values that employees share in relation to safety in the workplace.  It has been loosely described as “the way we do things round here”.