A framework for developing construction health and safety policies in Ghana

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Health and safety (H&S) has become the fourth arm of project management aside project scope, time and cost. In countries where H&S management has been advanced, projects with high risks have been managed and completed with minimal harm to the employees and affected people. Management tools and skills have been development around the subject quite extensively in developed countries like UK. However, the same cannot be said about developing countries like Ghana, where H&S seems to have been left into the hands of the employees. This accession has been confirmed by previous research on H&S of the construction worker in Ghana. Standards such are ILO-ISO-2001, HSG65 and OHSAS 18001:2007 have been around for use by employers. The above mentioned guidelines require first of importance, an H&S policy at work to deal with work related hazards; allocating responsibility of H&S to the employers. The aim of this study was therefore to look into health and safety policies in the construction industry and to propose a theoretical framework for developing H&S policies. The objectives include; to find out the quality of H&S policies (if they exist) in construction companies in Ghana , the factors which affect the development and implementation of the policies and to develop a framework to aid companies in developing quality implementable H&S policies. Extensive literature was reviewed on the various causes and effects of accidents, the H&S management principles or guidelines and factors affecting policy development and implementation. The philosophy for the study was positivism which led to the selection of quantitative approach. Survey technique was employed to inquire into the research questions. In all, 73 structured questionnaires were sent out to the respondents (D1K1 and D2K2 contractors were the main target population) and 51 were filled, returned and included in the analysis. The statistical techniques employed in the analysis of the results included mean score, percentiles and factor analysis. The study showed that policies are joined-up and are managed well. However, policy process does not include all stakeholders during development; communication is bad and there is no room for creativity and innovation in the kind of policies which are available in the construction industry. It further shows that, the policies do not really give cognisance to evidence and legal requirement, the resources are not available and evaluation of existing policies are non-existent. The overall quality of available H&S policies is bad. The research identified stakeholder participation and awareness, policy alignment, legal consultation, cost, culture, administration, client knowledge and expertise as the main factors that affect policy development in the industry. The major attributes that were identified after factor analysis as elements affecting H&S implementation in the industry included; skilled personnel, communication mechanism and resources, policy consistency, stakeholder involvement, trade union activities, organisational priorities and administration. Based on the above findings coupled with industry best practices for policy development a framework was developed.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Building Technology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of Philosophy in Construction Management.
Occupational Health and Safety, Policy, Formulation, Implementation, Quality, Construction Industry, Ghana