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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2018

David Oswald, Rita Peihua Zhang, Helen Lingard, Payam Pirzadeh and Tiendung Le

The purpose of this paper is to present a critical review of the use of safety performance indicators in the construction industry. The authors consider the strengths…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a critical review of the use of safety performance indicators in the construction industry. The authors consider the strengths, limitations and managerial consequences associated with commonly used indicators.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors combine two separate data sets in this critical review. These include 32 semi-structured interviews with construction industry representatives involved in the collection and reporting of safety indicators, as well as a multi-level safety climate survey that was conducted at 12 construction sites across Australia.

Findings

The analysis provides new evidence that, in their current use, commonly used H&S indicators are subject to manipulation and misinterpretation. Their usefulness as tools to support safety management activities in construction projects and organisations needs to be understood in the context of their limitations. In particular, safety indicators do not reflect the full set of factors that affect workplace safety and there will always be disagreement about what should be counted and how.

Originality/value

As a result of the substantial shortcomings of safety indicators, great care needs to be taken when using them to determine or evaluate organisational safety policy and practices.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 25 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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