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1.1          Background of the study

Health and safety is an important issue in construction works. A building construction site is a construction site where major construction activities take place, requiring the issue of health and safety to be taken into serious considerations. Hazards on building construction sites need to be defined and eliminated through effective health and safety measures.

Hazards as one of the characteristics nature of work on a construction site raises the issue of health and safety on building construction site as one of the numerous problems facing the building industry in Imo State. This problem may have directly or indirectly or negatively affected both human and material resources and may have also brought about perpetual agony and hardship to various families that are victimized by fatal industrial hazards.

In recent times, Occupational Health and Safety concerns have heightened in the wave of the globalization and the effect on labour standards, environment and public health (Quansah, 2008). According to Quansah (2008), Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) encompass the social, mental and physical well-being of workers, and for that matter the “whole person”. In the world at large, more people die at work than in wars (ILO, 2004). The ILO estimates that each year about 2.3 million men and women die from work-related accidents and diseases including close to 360,000 fatal accidents and an estimated 1.95 million fatal work-related diseases.

Health and Safety management in the building and construction industry is generally considered poor. Construction workers are generally susceptible to fatality rates three times the national workplace average and injury rates 50% higher than those experienced in other sectors (Cole, 2003). Construction industry workers are 2.4 times more likely to be killed at work than those employed in any other industry (Cole, 2003). In 2002–2003, poor OHS accounted for 6.3% of Australian GDP (ABS, 2005). In economic terms, it is estimated that roughly four per cent of the annual global Gross Domestic Product, or US$1.25 trillion, is siphoned off by direct and indirect costs of occupational accidents and diseases such as lost working time, workers‟ compensation, the interruption of production and medical expenses (ILO, 2009). Data from a number of industrialized countries shows that construction workers are three to four times more likely than other workers to die from accidents at work (ILO, 2009)

Most building construction workers are exposed to some hazards through enormous power tools, falling of construction materials, defective scaffolding and electrical defaults. The building construction sites in Imo State harbor a greater number of quacks and unformed labourers and contractors who do not care about the health, safety and welfare of their workers. Moreover, these contractors are not registered with the government and the contractors registering body. These groups of contractors only seek for their own individual welfare and they are abound mostly in rural areas of Imo State and go mostly for minor building works whose contracts are most cases initiated orally. These quack contractors are predominantly, illiterates but comprise experienced operators who are retired to retrench in the civil service construction firms and their apprentices.

According to Eze (1990) to affect the health and safety measures on building construction sites, the associated hazards must be recognized and monitored with the view to adopting adequate and satisfactory protection measures to safeguard the lives of workers.

Accidents that occur during construction and demolition activities result in injury, mostly to employees on site. Accidents can occur even before works begin during survey and investigatory phase of a project and after works have been completed, because of faulty design or construction causing death or injury to those engaged on maintenance work and to members of the public.

According to the ILO (2001), the increase in the number of construction workers has led to the profound effect on occupational health and safety issues in the building construction industry. For example in Nigeria, the bulk of labourers lack proper places to have their meals and they are often found eating outdoors, exposed to dust in the air, without dining tables or seats (Kheni, 2008). Apart from this, there have been a number of incidents where an employee was injured at a workplace resulting in pain and suffering for the worker and the worker’s family (Victoria, 2002).

A Health and Safety Management System involves the introduction of processes designed to decrease the incidence of injury and illness in the employer‟s operation (Turkson, 2006). Successful implementation of the system requires management commitment to the system, effective allocation of resources, and a high level of employee participation. The scope and complexity of a Health and Safety Management System will vary according to the size and type of workplace (Turkson, 2006).

The overall impact of injuries and illnesses on the economy is significant when both the direct and indirect costs are considered and successful business leaders including building contractors recognise that Health and Safety Management Systems are a necessary part of doing business. The hidden, often unrecorded, indirect costs due to non implementation of Health and Safety programs will increase costs resulting from property and equipment damage, production delays, training for replacement workers, investigation time, downtime, missed deadlines, overtime costs and reduced employee morale (Turkson, 2006).

As stated earlier, lost time, insurance costs and other expenses can add up quickly and if an incident draws media coverage, the employer may also find their sales, image and reputation will suffer adverse effects. Of course, the true cost of human suffering cannot be accounted for completely. Implementation of an effective Health and Safety Management System is a proactive way to prevent injuries and illnesses. While it cannot guarantee that incidents will never occur on a work site, an effective Health and Safety Management System will minimize both the number and the severity of workplace incidents, and will help demonstrate due diligence and duty of care in the event that an incident does occur. It can also distinguish a building contractor as an employer of choice in a competitive market.


1.2         Problem Statement

While the promotion of occupational safety and health (OSH) has improved over the past decades, the level of workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses still remains unacceptably high and takes an enormous toll on men, women and their families. Economies lose out as well; the cost of accidents and ill health amounts to an estimated 4 per cent of the world‟s GDP (ILO, 2009).

Health and safety management in the building industry in Nigeria is of major concern to stakeholders and government. Building contractors, depending on their size, are characterized by smaller work force, using simple tools and most activities being manual. During project delivery, it is deemed essential that health and safety management is carried out throughout the various stages, from inception through to completion and operation of the project. This research topic is to focus on factors that affect the implementation of health and safety management at the construction or building phase of a project. The reason for the study emanates from the desire to find out whether building contractors do implement health and safety management on site.


1.3         Objectives of the study

The aim of the study is to assess the Health and Safety Management in Building Construction Site (A Case Study of Imo State). Specific objectives include.


  1. Document the pre-requisite conditions that support the operation of a Health and Safety Management system.
  2. Document the current practices of selected construction firms in Occupational Health and Safety Management in Imo State.
  3. Identify the barriers to the operation of Occupational Health and Safety Management system in Nigeria.
  4. Recommend measures to improve the operation of occupational health and safety management systems on construction sites

1.4         Research Question

  1. What are the pre-requisite conditions that support the operation of a Health and Safety Management system?
  2. What the  current practices of selected construction firms in Occupational Health and Safety Management in Imo State?
  3. What are the barriers to the operation of Occupational Health and Safety Management system in Nigeria?
  4. What are the measures that can improve the operation of occupational health and safety management systems on construction sites?

1.5          Significance of the Study

This study will be of immense importance to the construction companies in not only Imo State but other states as well and in Nigeria as a whole. This is because the study will open their eyes to the various measures that can be used to ascertain the various causes of hazards, their effects and solutions to their when it occurs on the building construction sites.

This project will help to reduce the bad reputation and perception of Nigeria construction industry, mostly in Imo State in particular as a result of shoddy performance during project execution and repair.

The health and safety of workers on construction sites in Imo State has to be monitored form time to time during construction to minimize or prevent injuries to persons during constructions processes.

The study will be significant to students who might wish to use it as a basis for further research. It will serve as a spring board form which further research might take-off.

This research work on completion will be significant to both academia and the industrial sector as a whole. This study will increase the body of knowledge and literature on the Occupational Health and Safety by building contractors. Recommendations made at the end of this research will enable policy makers and management in the construction sector address issues in relating to Occupational Health and Safety in Nigeria.

1.6  Scope and Delimitation of the Study Scope

The scope of this work is to critically study and reveal the various accidents that occur frequently on site and also suggest the possible remedy to check same on building site in Imo State.


1.7  Delimitation

This project work covers the followings areas:

  1. The problems of health and safety on building construction sites, considered from many perspectives, in a view to maintain a reasonably high standard of health and safety on building sites.
  2. The duties of management in the issue of health and safety of workers on the building sites, with particular emphasis and references to building construction sites. It discuses and consequently educating the uninformed in construction, the need to imbibe safe working practices to reduce risk of accidents and generally enhance good health and welfare of personnel on the construction sites.
  3. The examination of the effects of non-compliance to safety regulations and causes of the non-compliance
  4. It recommends where appropriate the possible solution to the problems

1.8  Limitation

Due to the economy, the research study is limited to evaluate health and safety on building construction site, using Imo State as a case study. The researcher is compelled to limit it to this, due to time and financial constraint.


1.9          Organization of the Study

This study comprises five distinct chapters presented as follows:

Chapter one of this study comprises the introduction, the background of the study, the statement of problem, aim and objectives, significance of the study and finally the organization of the study.

Chapter two will comprise a review of the past and present literature on occupational health and safety by building contractors.

Chapter three of the study will describe the research methodology which will consists of the research design, population, sample and sample techniques, data collection procedure, data analysis, the software to be used, and the source of data used in the empirical analysis.

Chapter four will consists of data presentation, analysis and the discussion of findings.

The final chapter, chapter five, will contain the summary, conclusions drawn from the study and also contributions and recommendations.

Due to the economy, the research study is limited to evaluate health and safety on building construction site, using Imo State as a case study. The researcher is compelled to limit it to this, due to time and financial constraint.


1.10   Definition Of Terms

Health: The Oxford dictionary of current English language defines health as the state of being free form illness or injury; a person’s mental or physical condition.

Collins gem English language dictionary defines health as the state of soundness of the body. It is the condition of the body.

Webster’s Encyclopedia dictionary of English language put it that “health” is the state of fitness of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigor.

Safety:   The Oxford dictionary of current English language defines safety as the condition of being safe.

Webster’s encyclopedia dictionary of English language defines safety as the conditions of being safe from risk or danger. It is the quality of averting or not causing injury, danger or loss.

Scaffold:        Scaffolding is a kind of undulating ladder which is used as a temporary elevated frame work for the supporting of materials and workers during a construction work, specifically for buildings and other kinds of larger structures. Scaffolding is ideally suitable for construction sites, as they are adjustable in height, giving the workers an ability to stand on them have the capacity to hold many materials and persons.

Management:         H.R. Light (1968 – 1971) in his book “the nature of management” defines management as the body of knowledge about managing. He went further to describe management as the process of planning, organizing, directly, and coordinating men, materials, machines and money so as to secure the optimum achievement of objectives.

Koontz and O’Donnel (1976) in their book, “management”: “a system and contingency analysis of managerial function” describes management as a field of study which used a body of knowledge in the co-ordination of human and material resources for the attainment of set organizational goals or in accomplishment of set objectives.

In its simplest form, management is the process of getting things done whereby a suitable environment is created or designed for effort to be organized to accomplish desired goals.


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