Construction Site Safety Audit

02 Nov 2017

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DR. M.O. AGWU, MNIM, MNISP

Department of Business Administration, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State

Abstract

The paper examined construction site safety audit (CSSA) and organizational performance in shell bonny terminal integrated project. The research question addressed the extent at which reduced accident/incident rate and increased organizational productivity is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project. It assumes that if a company incorporates construction site safety audit into its investment in machines and technology (socio-technical investments) through regular site safety audits/inspections, it will result in better safety performance of employees, the management and the company as a whole. The core aspect of the study is the use of cross-sectional survey research design in generating the required primary data. The place of study is the bonny terminal of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) while the duration of study is between October 2010 and September 2011. A sample of 396(35supervisors, 98 foremen and 263 workmen) respondents determined at 5% level of significance for sample error, using Yamane’s formula, was selected from a population of 40,568 employees using stratified random sampling method for the purpose of questionnaire administration. The results indicated that reduced accident/incident rate in shell bonny terminal integrated project is to large extent dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit as buttressed by the 88 % large extent response rate and increased organizational productivity in shell bonny terminal integrated project is to large extent dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit as buttressed by the 83.33% large extent response rate. It therefore recommends among others: regular site safety audits to identify/eliminate potential workplace hazards, regular staff training to improve their hazard identification skills, involvement of both management and workers in the execution of construction site safety audit, formation of production quality circles to identify and eliminate potential hazards at each stage of production and making hazard identification/reporting everyone’s responsibility.

Keywords: Safety audit, workplace hazards, accident/incident rate, organizational productivity.

1. Introduction

The need to modernize and automate the existing facilities at the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Bonny oil and gas terminal necessitated the award and execution of the bonny terminal integrated project (BTIP). The project consists of the rehabilitation of existing crude oil storage tanks and construction of new ones, construction of new residential and office buildings, construction and installation of new gas turbines, booster pumps, emulsion treatment plant and an automated central control system. It also includes the laying of two new 48inches crude export pipelines to the offshore crude loading platform (CLP).

The BTIP contract with an estimated value of US$2.2 billion is being executed by three major construction companies namely Hyundai Heavy Industries Nigeria Ltd (HHI), Dec oil and Gas Company Nigeria Ltd and Zakhem oil services Nigeria Ltd. The civil and the mechanical aspects of the BTIP is being executed by HHI, the Tank rehabilitation aspect is undertaken by Zakhem oil services while the construction of new tanks is being executed by Dec oil and gas Ltd.

Though, a health, safety and environment management system (HSE-MS) was incorporated into the project design and construction contract document as specified in Nigeria’s Mineral Oils (Safety) regulations 1997, the increasing rate of construction accidents/incidents within the last six months of 2010 in the BTIP, compelled the management to introduce construction site safety audit as a proactive measure for stemming the tide of these ugly incidents. It is this construction site safety audit and organizational performance in shell bonny terminal integrated project that forms the subject of this research.

According to NISP (2004), construction site safety audit is a proactive program designed to enable employees identify and eliminate workplace hazards (unsafe acts of persons, unsafe mechanical conditions or unsafe environmental conditions).It is usually aimed at reducing exposure to the aforementioned workplace hazards. The adoption of this proactive approach, in some companies, may have been informed by the occurrence of major accidents or an internal realization from accident investigation and reporting that safety standards may be falling. Construction site safety audit is the bedrock and a subsystem of the corporate HSE-MS. Its effective implementation will go a long way in identifying/eliminating construction hazards and promoting safety consciousness within the organization. It is intended to promote, improve and maintain good safety performance. Regular construction site safety audits should be based on the premise that resources should be made available for the identification and elimination workplace hazards before accidents occur rather than the use of resources only after injuries and damage to equipment have resulted in human suffering and significant monetary loss.

According to Carter and Smith (2005), construction site safety audit is important in managing construction risks and communicating safety and hazard awareness down to the people who are actually exposed to the hazards. This is because hazard identification/elimination is fundamental to construction safety from statistical, legislative and risk management perspectives. Since construction projects are always faced with time, cost and manpower constraints, tasks need to be prioritized in terms of hazards/risks so that limited site resources will be focused on those tasks that expose workers to the greatest danger. The UK CDM (1994) regulations made allowance for this phenomenon and stated that workers health and safety must be protected so far as is reasonably practicable. This term is interpreted as the "degree of risk in a particular activity or environment balance against time, trouble, cost and physical difficulty of taking measures to avoid the risk" (Horner, 1998). This explains why construction site safety audit is mandatory in all SPDC construction projects.

The influence of construction site safety audit on organizational performance and loss control in the Nigerian construction industry cannot be over emphasized, especially in the areas of setting minimum safety management standards, safe work procedures and environmental management standards. It is assumed that construction site safety audit has a direct relationship with employees’ productivity in view of the fact that assigned tasks can only be safely accomplished when workplace hazards are promptly identified and eliminated, be it construction, manufacturing or servicing. Thus, any phenomenon that affects human production capacity will invariably affect organizational productivity hence improving workers wellbeing through construction site safety audit offers a company the opportunity of enhancing its performance (Galliker, 2000).

The consequences of construction incidents on workers’ productivity are so grave that construction companies should be legally, morally and socially compelled to incorporate construction site safety audit as one of their production inputs in taming the tide of accidents/incidents in their activities. Construction incidents especially those involving lost time injuries (LTI) and lost workdays (LWD) usually lead to shop closure for incident investigation and reporting. This situation results in loss of man-hours, output, reputation and low workers morale. Andrew Smith (2002), the U.K. secretary of state for workers and pensions in stressing the importance of construction site safety audit as an accident preventive mechanism in the construction industry stated thus:

"Preventing people from being harmed by construction work

through the identification and elimination of workplace hazards

is a vital task whose importance cannot be overstated especially in

construction site safety audit".

Apart from the need to reduce or eliminate accidents/incidents, construction companies should incorporate construction site safety audit in their operation in order to satisfy legal, social, moral and cultural obligations of the host country/community. Dorman (2000) argues that for companies to provide effective and efficient construction site safety audit, the costs of accidents/incidents must be economic, internal, variable and visible.

The extent to which construction site safety audit is viewed as a core management responsibility in construction companies depends on the answers to the questions below:

Is construction site safety audit perceived to be a critical commercial success factor?

Are the costs of ill-health, injury and pollution perceived to be significant?

Do regulatory bodies exert pressure on the company to execute construction site safety audit in its operations?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is affirmative, it is probable that construction site safety audit will be seen as an important commercial success factor and treated as a core management responsibility. In the case of construction companies in the BTIP, productivity/loss control has been enhanced to the extent that construction site safety audit is included and regarded as a major production input like enterprise skills in the execution of their operations. Court (2003), in his contribution to construction site safety audit as a proactive accident preventive measure argues that creating better work environment and preventing harm from work are the key means of improving productivity.

1.1 Statement of the Problem

Between March and June 2006, the BTIP recorded two fatalities the first fatality occurred on 4th March 2010, in which a Zakhem worker was drowned, while carrying out marine activities, while the second fatality occurred on 12th June, 2010, in which a HHI TCN staff died as a result of injuries sustained during a winch cable puling operating. The learning points from the reports of both incident suggested that the construction site safety audit was either non-existent or poorly implemented in the execution of construction activities.

The occurrence of accidents in construction sites usually leads to site closure for accident investigation, loss of man-hours, loss of machine-hours, loss of output, high labour turnover, loss of corporate reputation, medical expenses of the injured and losses arising from compensation/insurance claims for the dead/injured. Economic development activities are usually hampered in a country with high rate of construction accidents; since productivity/national output will be low, inflation and rate of unemployment will be high while there will be an increase in social vices. These problems may be averted if construction hazards are identified and eliminated at the incipient stage through changing the work environment/safety culture via a construction site safety audit (Reason, 1990).It is against this background, that it becomes pertinent to examine construction site safety audit and organizational performance in the shell bonny terminal integrated project.

1.2 Research Objectives

The objectives of the research are as follows:

1. To determine the extent at which reduced accident/incident rate is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project.

2. To determine the extent at which increased organizational productivity is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project.

1.3 Research Questions

In view of the above research objectives, the following null hypothesis was formulated:

1. To what extent is reduced accident/incident rate dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project?

2. To what extent is increased organizational productivity dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project?

1.4 Research Hypotheses

In view of the above research questions, the following null hypotheses were formulated:

1HO: Reduced accident/incident rate is not dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project.

2HO: Increased organizational productivity is not dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project.

2. Literature Review

Traditionally, organizational performance in the construction industry has been measured by such metrics as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA,2008) recordable injury rate (RIR); or the experience modification rating (EMR) on workers‘ compensation. These have served the purpose of providing information by which construction contractors could assess their safety performance in terms of construction industry averages on those metrics or to make comparisons with other firms. These metrics provide historical information about some aspect of the safety performance that has occurred and rely primarily on some form of accident or injury data which are labeled reactive, trailing, downstream, or lagging indicators because they rely on retrospective data.

Focusing on these measures (e.g., accident rates and compensation costs) often means that the success of safety is measured by the levels of system failure (Cohen, 2002). While lagging measurements can provide data about incidents after-the-fact, the question remains regarding the value of these metrics as a means of predicting workplace safety performance. It is important to note that a growing number of safety professionals question the value of lagging indicators and argue that lagging indicators do not provide sufficient information or insight to effectively avoid future accidents. Glendon and Mckenna (1995) identified a number of reasons why accident data, or similar outcome data, are poor safety indicators: they are insufficiently sensitive, retrospective, and ignore risk exposure. Laitinen, Marjamaki, and Paivarinta (1999) stated that it is almost impossible to use accidents as a safety indicator for a single construction site. This is because of random variation, where many sites will have no accidents, and it is not possible to determine whether these sites with zero accidents are safer than sites with four or five accidents.

Recognizing such shortcomings, many scholars advocated for a shift to using proactive, upstream, or leading indicators like construction site safety audits (Flin, Mearns, O‘Connor and Bryden, 2000; Cooper, 2000; Mohamed, 2002; Choudhry and Fang, 2005). In contrast, leading indicators are measures which are not necessarily historical in nature but rather can be used as predictors of future safety performance. These are conditions, events, or measures that precede an incident and have a predictive value with regards to an accident/incident/unsafe conditions. Hinze, (2005) characterized leading indicators as measurements linked to actions taken to prevent accidents. Thus, leading indicators like construction site safety audit serve as the building blocks of an organization‘s safety culture. In view of the above discourse, this research views construction site safety audit as a leading indicator in measuring an organization’s performance.

2.1 Conceptual Framework

Construction site safety audit is a proactive process of identifying and eliminating potential hazards in a workplace. For a construction site safety audit to be suitable and sufficient for a specific construction site, it must be proactive and cover all reasonably foreseeable construction hazards and be reasonably practicable in its hazard management approach.

A construction site safety audit is proactive because it involves routine inspections and checks to make sure standards and policies are being implemented and that controls are working (Hughes and Ferrett, 2007). For these inspections and checks to be effective and efficient, they must address the ‘four Ps’ of construction activities: premises (access/egress, housekeeping, services like gas and electricity, working environment and fire precautions/emergency procedures), plant/substances (machinery guarding, tools and equipment, local exhaust ventilation and use/storage/separation of materials/chemicals), procedures (safe systems of work, permits to work, use of personal protective equipment and procedures followed) and people(health surveillance, people’s behavior, training and supervision by appropriate competent persons).

According to Hughes and Ferrett, (2007), construction site safety audit checklist should facilitate:

the planning and initiation of remedial action, requiring those doing site safety audit to rank deficiencies in order of priority

identify those responsible for taking remedial actions, with sensible time scales to track progress on implementation

periodic monitoring to identify common themes which might reveal underlying problems in the system

Management information on the frequency or nature of the monitoring arrangements.

For construction site safety audit to be successful, safety auditors should: be selective, know what to look for, practice, keep an open mind, guard against habit/familiarity, not being satisfied with general impressions and record observations systematically. In addition to being a good observer, the construction site safety auditor must:

stop for 10 to 30 seconds before entering a new area to audit where employees are working

be alert for unsafe practices(evaporative unsafe practices) that are corrected as soon as he enters an area

observe activity – he should not avoid the action

remember ABBI - look Above, Below, Behind and Inside

develop a questioning attitude to determine what injuries might occur if the unexpected happens and how the job might be accomplished more safely. Ask ‘why?’ and ‘what could happen if …?’

use all senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch

maintain a balanced approach, observe all phases of the job

be inquisitive

observe for ideas – not just to determine problems

recognize good performance.

A suitable and sufficient construction site safety audit must cover all reasonable and foreseeable hazards associated with construction activities which implies that employers of labour are expected to:

foresee all hazards in their activities that are of common knowledge

foresee al hazards that are known to people in the construction industry

foresee all hazards that are known to people possessing the same construction expert knowledge and skills.

A suitable and sufficient construction site safety audit must use reasonable practicable hazard control measures in managing workplace hazards. This means that the cost of risk control in terms of time, effort, money or inconvenience must not outweigh the benefits of the risk control measure. Thus, improving employees construction site safety audit, is directly related to their productivity and profitability of organizations (Goetzel, 1999)

2.2 Theoretical Framework

This paper is based on Mossink and De Greef (2002), economic effects which states that implementation of construction site safety audit at the company level will have influence on safety performance as well as on corporate performance/productivity. This theory is illustrated diagrammatically in figure 1 below:

Figure1: Economic effects of construction site safety audit at company level

Source: Adapted with modification from Mossink, J & De Greef, M (2002) Inventory of social economic cost of work accidents, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

Figure 1 is explained thus: If a company incorporates construction site safety audit into its investment in machines and technology (socio-technical investments) through regular site safety audits/inspections and management commitment, this situation will lead to employees’ and management obedience to safety rules and regulations.

The employees and management obedience to safety rules and regulations will make for better safety measures which will result in better safety performance of employees, the management and the company as a whole. The better performance of employees will lead to fewer accidents, damages, liabilities, legal costs, medical costs etc., through reduction of safety risks and creation of better opportunities and rehabilitation for employees after injury. The better safety performance of the company will bring about better productivity, efficiency, quality, corporate image and innovative capacity hence there will be less disruption of work process and less liabilities.

3. Research Methodology

The scope of the research is limited to the three construction companies (HHI Nigeria ltd, Dec oil gas ltd and Zahkem Nigeria ltd) involved in the SPDC Bonny BTIP. An exploratory, cross-sectional survey was used in generating the primary data required for the study. The population of study consists of 40,568 workers of three categories (3,560 supervisors, 10,028 foremen and 26,980 workmen) drawn from the three BTIP construction companies. A sample of 396 workers (35 supervisors, 98 foremen and 263 workmen) determined at 5% level of significance for sample error, using Taro Yamane’s (1964) formula, was selected using stratified random sampling method for the purpose of questionnaire administration. The questionnaire was designed to obtain a fair representation of the opinions of the three categories of construction workers in the three construction companies using a three-point Likert type scale. The questionnaire responses of the sample respondents were presented using tables, analyzed and interpreted using simple percentages while the formulated hypotheses were tested using chi-square (χ2). A total of 396 copies of the questionnaire were administered, out of which 2 were cancelled while 4 were not returned and 390 (98%) were used for analysis.

4. Results and Discussions

4.1 Distribution of Responses on Research Questions

Question Number 1: To what extent does your company implement construction site safety audit in the execution of shell bonny terminal integrated project?

Table 1, indicates that a total of 331 i.e. 85% of the workers across the three categories are of the opinion that their company to a large extent implements construction site safety audit in the execution of shell bonny terminal integrated project, 43 i.e. 11% of the workers were of a mild extent opinion while 16 workers i.e. 4% expressed a poor extent opinion of their company’s implementation of construction site safety audit in the execution of shell bonny terminal integrated project. We therefore conclude that there is a strong evidence of implementation of construction site safety audit in the execution of shell bonny terminal integrated project as buttressed by the 85% large extent response of the sample respondents.

Table1: Response pattern on the extent of implementation of construction site safety audit in the execution of shell bonny terminal integrated project

Category of Respondents/Workers

Responses Provided

Large extent

Mild extent

Poor extent

Total

Supervisors

25

8

2

35

Foremen

85

10

3

98

Workmen

221

25

11

257

Total

331

43

16

390

Source: Field Survey, 2011.

Question Number2: To what extent is reduced accident/incident rate dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project?

Table 2, indicates that a total of 345 i.e. 88% of the workers across the three categories were of the view that reduced accident/incident rate in shell bonny terminal integrated project is to a large extent dependent on their company’s implementation of construction site safety audit, 34 i.e. 9% of the workers expressed a mild extent opinion while 11 workers i.e. 3% were of the view that reduced accident/incident rate in shell bonny terminal integrated project is to a poor extent dependent on their company’s implementation of construction site safety audit. We therefore conclude that there is a strong evidence that reduced accident/incident rate in shell bonny terminal integrated project is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit as buttressed by the 88% large extent response of the sample respondents.

Table 2: Response pattern on the extent reduced accident/incident rate is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project

Category of Respondents/Workers

Responses Provided

Large extent

Mild extent

Poor extent

Total

Supervisors

21

12

2

35

Foremen

90

6

2

98

Workmen

234

16

7

257

Total

345

34

11

390

Source: Field Survey, 2011.

Question Number 3: To what extent is increased organizational productivity dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project?

Table 3 shows that a total of 325 i.e.83.33 % of the workers across the three categories were of the opinion that increased organizational productivity in shell bonny terminal integrated project is to a large extent dependent on their company’s implementation of construction site safety audit, 45 i.e.11.54% of the workers expressed a mild extent view while 20 i.e. 5.13% of the workers were of the view that increased organizational productivity in shell bonny terminal integrated project is to a poor extent dependent on their company’s implementation of construction site safety audit. We therefore conclude that there is a strong evidence that increased organizational productivity in shell bonny terminal integrated project is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit as buttressed by the 83.33 % large extent response of the sample respondents.

Table3: Responses on the extent increased organizational productivity is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project

Category of Respondents/Workers

Responses Provided

Large extent

Mild extent

Poor extent

Total

Supervisors

20

10

5

35

Foremen

75

15

8

98

Workmen

230

20

7

257

Total

325

45

20

390

Source: Field Survey, 2011.

4.2 Test of Hypotheses

4.2.1 Test of the First Hypothesis

(i) HO: Reduced accident/incident rate is not dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project.

H1: Reduced accident/incident rate is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project.

(ii) α =0.05

(iii) Degree of Freedom ( df) = (r – 1)(c-1= (3-1)(3-1)=4

(iv) Decision Rule: Reject Ho: if χ2c > χ2t, Accept Ho: if χ2c < χ2t

(v) Chi- square critical table value χ2t = χ20.05 = 9.49

(vi) Chi-square critical computed value from table 6 = χ2c=33.63 (see appendix one)

Since χ2c > χ2t i.e. 33.63> 9.49, we reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis that reduced accident/incident rate in shell bonny terminal integrated project is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit, as buttressed by the 88% large extent response of the sample respondents in Table2.

4.2.2 Test of the Second Hypothesis

(i) HO: Increased organizational productivity is not dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project.

H1: Increased organizational productivity is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit in shell bonny terminal integrated project.

(ii) α =0.05

(iii) Degree of Freedom ( df) = (r – 1)(c-1= (3-1)(3-1)=4

(iv) Decision Rule: Reject Ho: if χ2c > χ2t Accept Ho: if χ2c < χ2t

(v) Chi- square critical table value χ2t = χ20.05 = 9.49

(vi) Chi-square critical computed value from table 7 = χ2c=28.14(see appendix two)

Since χ2c > χ2t i.e. 28.1425> 9.49, we reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis that increased organizational productivity in shell bonny terminal integrated project is dependent on the implementation of construction site safety audit, as buttressed by the 83.33 % large extent response of the sample respondents in Table3.

5. Conclusion and Recommendations

This paper has tried to examine construction site safety audit (CSSA) and organizational performance in shell bonny terminal integrated project. It assumes that if a company incorporates construction site safety audit into its investment in machines and technology (socio-technical investments) through regular site safety audits/inspections, it will result in better safety performance of employees, the management and the company as a whole. Arising from the findings of this paper, it is suggested that the BTIP construction companies should take the following measures to sustain the current gains of construction site safety audit in their operations:

Regular site safety audits to identify/eliminate potential workplace hazards.

Regular staff training to improve their hazard identification skills.

Involvement of both management and workers in the execution of construction site safety audit.

Formation of production quality circles to identify and eliminate potential hazards at each stage of production.

Making hazard identification/reporting everyone’s responsibility.

Management’s visible commitment and leadership to construction site safety audit.

A timely close out of observed unsafe acts/unsafe conditions.

Encouragement of work site inter-departmental safety audits.

Provision of incentives for construction site safety audit.



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