Unfortunately the construction industry has become stereotyped as an accident prone industry, in fact only mining and fishing industries have higher fatalities. Depressingly, the accident rates experienced closely correlate to the level of activity within the industry, indicating that when work load is high, safety tends to receive less attention.
It is argued that construction management must have a prime concern for safety and therefore should have a moral, economic, and legal commitment to ensure workplace safety on sites. However the responsibility for safety must commence upstream of the construction phase of a project; architects and engineers must have the technical knowledge to design buildings which can be safely constructed, as well as a commitment to safe working conditions for site workers.
To many managers who have been brought up to the importance of construction scheduling, and controlling costs, the economic aspect of safety is the most forceful. In construction the costs associated with an accident can be immense. For material losses in which no injury occurs the accounting of loss can be easily assessed; but where human loss is concerned, the costing becomes more difficult since life or a physical facility cannot crudely be financially evaluated, yet it has been widely recognized that monetary compensation to either the injured party or relatives in the event of fatality has to be paid.
Most compensation payments are paid by the contractor's insurance company. Insurance companies will base their premiums upon historical evidence and a poor safety record will inevitably be reflected in insurance premiums.
However, the loss to a company by an accident can be broken into:
To generate safety consciousness within construction organizations, a firm lead must be taken by top management. It is recognized that finance and lost production are convenient measurements of accidents, but accidents should generate an emotional response, and if this emotion is genuine it will carry conviction. A safety policy which is founded upon compassion will more often succeed, since it will impervious to shifts and changes in construction scheduling and fashion and, consequently, will be less easily diluted.
Contractors should give careful thought to the role of the full time safety officer. Two basic concepts exist about this role:
In general the role of the safety officer shall consist of the following duties: