Characteristics of the safety climate in teams with world-class safety performance on construction projects in South Africa
Van Heerden, Hennie
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Accidents and incidents in the construction environment are not reduced or eliminated effectively, despite numerous efforts made to improve health and safety in the industry. An extensive field of research has been conducted on how teams in the construction environment interact to deliver a project successfully in terms of cost, quality and time. Previous research exists on how team dynamics interface with safety, but is found to be of different focus or markets than this study. This study aims to determine the characteristics of the safety climate that exists in construction teams in South Africa in terms of world-class safety performance, when compared to teams with poor safety performance. An adaptation of the modified safety pyramid (Zohar, 2010) provides a useful conceptual model to investigate the link between safety performance and safety climate related to construction teams. By combining observations from literature and predominantly adapting the Safety Climate Questionnaire (SCQ), a number of directly measurable factors are identified that can be correlated with safety performance and utilised in this investigation to identify the unique characteristics of safety climate in construction teams with world-class safety performance. The characteristics of the safety climate in construction teams were divided into eight groups, namely work pressure, incident investigation, adequacy of procedures, communication and training, relationships, personal protective equipment, spares, and safety. The framework developed in previous studies is used for assessing the responses of safety users to that of safety performance observations. It is found that relationships within an organisation are a major contributory factor in safety performance, but also the way in which the safety climate is enforced in an inclusive management style through proper procedure, training and communication. This also supports the results of Cohen (1977).