Developing A Proactive Safety Performance Measurement Tool (SPMT) For Construction Sites

University dissertation from Loughborough University

Abstract: ‘Safety pays’ is a phrase commonly used. But, when it comes to putting that concept into practice, very few are actually successful at it. Reasons given include: it is costly or it is a waste of time or it is not the main cause of failure. However the real problem is that there is not enough guidance as to how to improve safety performance on site. Traditional measurement approaches include accident investigations, inspections and job safety analyses. The question often posed is: Do these statistics reflect the actual safety effectiveness on site? Almost always they do not. These numbers often just tell how lucky or unlucky the site has been and do not reflect the level of effectiveness of safety performance on site. The key question is: If this reactive backward looking approach does not portray the true picture, what is the best approach? What the industry needs is a new paradigm for measuring safety performance on construction sites i.e. a proactive approach rather than just depending on the reactive data. Studies by many researchers have suggested looking away from these post-accident scenarios. The proactive approach measures site activities. It measures safe behaviour rather than unsafe behaviour. The proactive approach is able to provide essential feedback on performance before incidents occur. These on-going measures will be able to monitor the safety performance on site. The safety performance measurement tool (SPMT) was designed as an interactive assessment tool using MS Access and MS Excel to measure safety performance for construction sites. SPMT uses available knowledge to generate a solution to an industry safety problem. This tool concentrates on proactive measures of culture and behaviour. It is applied on site using questionnaires, observations and document checks, which are be entered into a measurement database. The tool requires the involvement of personnel within the construction project. At present, SPMT has been designed to include the participation of head office management, site management, site supervisors, site operatives and specialist-contractor’s management. Using SPMT enables real-time feedback on safety performance. SPMT is a measurement tool that identifies substandard performance, allows focussed remedial action and evaluates the progress or regress of safety performance on construction sites. SPMT aims to move the industry away from a purely reactive response and towards a more proactive approach to the improvement of safety performance. This approach will contribute to changing the working culture in the construction industry.

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