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Safety Initiative Effectiveness in Hong Kong- One Size does not Fit All (Final Report)

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The expected increase in output within the next two years with the onset of the MTR projects presents a serious dilemma. Accident rates mirror output in the construction industry and we should anticipate a significant increase in the accident rate with the increase in output. Thus, it is necessary to plan now for the expected upturn - the situation is URGENT and immediate action is required. The cost of work-related accidents and ill-health in the construction industry account for as much as 8.5% of project costs when social, direct and indirect costs are included. The industry in general is receptive to change and becoming more OHS conscious but the forces driving change in the industry are opposing. Currently, institutional barriers exist to a concerted improvement effort and these need to be addressed and removed. The best performing contractors, clients, consultants and subcontractors attain standards of excellence comparable with the best in the world but there is a wide range of maturity, and so performance, throughout the industry. The following issues have been identified which require new initiatives to be developed.
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CII-HK Study - Safety Initiative Effectiveness in Hong Kong
One Size does not Fit All
Final Report
(Dated 16.10.2008)
Special notes:-
1. This report was prepared by the Research Team of Department of Real Estate and
Construction of The University of Hong Kong (“the Research Team”) in June 2008.
2. No part of this report may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, or, stored in any retrieved system of any nature without prior written
permission of the Research Team.
3. The Research Team gives no warranty on the legal validity and accuracy of its
contents and expressly disclaims liability for any loss, damage or claim suffered or
incurred by any person arising out of the use of or reliance upon the document or any
of its contents.
4. The Research Team welcomes any suggestions for improvement or correction, and
these should be sent to the Research Team by email (steverowlinson@hku.hk
swpoon@hkucc.hku.hk and brenda@hku.hk).
Copyright © Construction Industry Institute – Hong Kong
Real Estate and Construction Department
The University of Hong Kong
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Acknowledgments
Throughout this study, the Research Team received the full support of various parties.
The Research Team wishes to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to
those who have participated in the discussions and interviews.
Our appreciation also goes to Dr. Nicolas Yeung, Ms. Frankie Ho, Raymond Cheung
and the following Taskforce members for their professional comments and
constructive suggestions:
Mr. Patrick CHAN
Mr. C C CHAN
Mr. K P CHAN
Mr. Terence CHAN
Mr. Paul CHONG
Mr. Stephen FONG
Mr. Chris GABRIEL
Mr. M L KU
Dr. Ronald LU
Mr. Kenneth MO
Mr. K L PANG
Mr. K K WONG
Mr. Eric TONG
Dr. Nicolas YEUNG
The following, amongst many others unnamed, are especially thanked for their
contributions to this research: Alan Chan of Kwan On; Ben Yiu of CLP
Engineering; Wong Po Wah of Penta Ocean; Yau Kwok Fai of Able Engineering;
Joan To of Chevalier; Jimmy Ng of Chun Wo; Kwong Chee Keung of Hip Hing;
Christopher Chu of Tysan; Charles Leung of Paul Y; Peter Tong of Shui On.
Mr. Thomas Kwok of Real Estate Development Association and Mr. Burnic Fu of
Hong Kong Federation of Insurers also deserve special thanks for their participation
in this project.
The Research Team, October 2008
Professor Steve Rowlinson
Dr. S. W. Poon
Dr. Brenda Yip
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Executive Summary
The expected increase in output within the next two years with the onset of the MTR
projects presents a serious dilemma. Accident rates mirror output in the construction
industry and we should anticipate a significant increase in the accident rate with the
increase in output. Thus, it is necessary to plan now for the expected upturn - the
situation is URGENT and immediate action is required.
The cost of work-related accidents and ill-health in the construction industry account
for as much as 8.5% of project costs when social, direct and indirect costs are
included. The industry in general is receptive to change and becoming more OHS
conscious but the forces driving change in the industry are opposing. Currently,
institutional barriers exist to a concerted improvement effort and these need to be
addressed and removed. The best performing contractors, clients, consultants and
subcontractors attain standards of excellence comparable with the best in the world
but there is a wide range of maturity, and so performance, throughout the industry.
The following issues have been identified which require new initiatives to be
developed.
Responsibility Matrix: a responsibility matrix should be developed for all
participants in the industry which defines their roles and contributions to the
whole life cycle of a constructed facility and which identifies and empowers
all stakeholders to participate;
Competence Framework: a competence framework should be developed which
highlights the competences required of different roles and at different levels
within the industry in order to develop a safety culture and behaviours. CIC
can drive this and ensure that it matches with the training provision provided
by the industry;
Safety initiatives: all current safety initiatives should be periodically reviewed and
continuously improved. This should be an industry wide effort but individual
organizations should be encouraged to share their experiences and be
rewarded for doing so;
Award schemes: top performing organizations from all sectors should be
recognised and rewarded, by both publicity and business rewards, for their
exemplary performance and encouraged to share their experiences;
Developer attitude: a culture change is required and a move towards open
disclosure of OHS performance (in project development and use). This can be
driven by REDA;
Insurance reform: a move to a territory wide insurance modification system where
the best performing contractors and developers are rewarded (client insurance
should also be investigated as an option). This requires a centralization and
analysis of data which currently does not take place;
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Whole life cycle management: in order to stimulate good OHS attitudes and
change behaviours the focus of OHS management should be on the complete
lifecycle of the building, thus including the needs and risks associated with
client, users, stakeholders, developers, insurers, designers, contractors, sub-
contractors, facility managers and cleaning and maintenance personnel. A life
cycle OHS management framework should be developed;
Work life balance: when people are content with their work life balance their
performance improves and they have the inclination to be creative and
consider, inter alia, OHS issues thoroughly, carefully and with passion;
“Can do” attitude: one of Hong Kong’s strengths is also one of its weaknesses –
we drive ourselves and our co-workers beyond the limit of what can be
reasonably expected. A more mature attitude is required with a focus on
Corporate Social Responsibility rather than purely bottom line dollars;
Use of data: the data collected on accidents and incidents should be reviewed for
its content and its use – more can be made of the data if it is critically analysed.
Importantly, it is time to adopt a mature attitude and focus on collecting input
data (positive OHS performance data) as well as output data (accident rates).
Hong Kong has the opportunity to lead the world in this respect;
Procurement systems: current tendering systems, lowest bid-acceptance, and the
lack of true partnering and relationship management are a key source of OHS
issues. The procurement approach must change to allow more innovation and
consideration of whole life cycle OHS issues. Again, Hong Kong can be a
world leader in this respect;
Relationship management: great ideas and innovation do not flourish in an
atmosphere of confrontation – more relational contracting approaches and
expert facilitation are needed industry wide;
Frank auditing – focus on improvement: a mechanism has to be developed to
allow independent auditors to be freed from the commercial pressure they feel
to bowdlerise their audit reports. CIC should consider how it might take this
on board and provide a truly independent milieu for the auditors;
Maturity of Organisations: the best contractors in Hong Kong are world leaders in
OHS management and performance. A concerted effort is required, driven by
CIC, to enable the provision of a wide range of services/expertise to enable the
less mature organizations to develop and grow despite their limited resources;
Toolkits: industry-wide toolkits can be provided to enable many of the initiatives
discussed above;
Health issues: these are not dealt with adequately in Hong Kong at the moment.
One third of construction workers suffer from health issues and the main
problems are dermatitis, respiratory problems, stress, hearing loss, musco-
skeletal disorders, back pain, hand arm vibration, silicosis, high blood pressure
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and eyesight. A task force should be set up urgently to develop a strategy for
dealing with these issues.
Worker engagement: the opportunity should be taken to empower workers to
improve their own safety systems and to engage workers in the process of
improving industry and company safety performance. Many of the best safety
management initiatives have their genesis in workers’ suggestions and ideas.
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An industry-wide agenda for a safer and healthier construction
industry
1. Promote a Culture change throughout the real estate & construction industry
2. Pay for safety
3. Engage workers in health and safety management
4. Establish and achieve territory-wide safety targets
5. Commit to comprehensive training focused on identified competences
6. Publish performance data
7. Encourage and reward responsible developers
8. Carefully and methodically audit and monitor site safety
9. Adopt more relational and integrated procurement systems
10. Choose competent contractors
11. Set a realistic and fair programme
12. Develop a whole life cycle safety management system
13. CIC to take the lead in driving these initiatives.
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Abbreviations
Automatic Suspension from Tendering System ASTS
Cost Effectiveness Index CEI
China Light and Power CLP
Contractor Performance Index System CPIS
Green Card Scheme GCS
Hong Kong Construction Association HKCA
Human Resource Management HRM
Institution of Civil Engineers ICE
Importance Factor IF
Implementation and Procedures IP
Lowest Relative Cost Score LRCS
Master of Interdisciplinary Design and Management MIDIM
Mean Ranking MR
Occupational Health & Safety OHS
Organisational Management OM
Occupational Safety & Health Council OSHC
Performance Assessment Scoring System PASS
Pay For Safety Scheme PFSS
Relative Cost Index RCI
Relative Cost Score RCS
Real Estate Developers Association REDA
Relative Effectiveness Index REI
Safety Main Factor SMF
Safety Management Scheme SMS
Specific Project Objectives SPO
Site Supervision Plan System SSPS
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Table of Contents
Acknowledgements
Executive Summary
An industry-wide agenda for a safer and healthier construction industry
Abbreviations
Summary of Chapters
Page
Chapter 1 – Introduction to the research 13
1.1 The current Situation 13
1.2 Background to the Research 15
1.3 The Hong Kong Context 15
1.4 Existing Initiatives 17
Chapter 2 – Work Undertaken 18
2.1 Research Program 18
2.2 Specific Studies 19
2.3 Specific Methodologies Adopted 19
Chapter 3 – Cost Effectiveness of safety management initiatives study 22
3.1 Summary 22
3.2 The Detailed Cost Effectiveness Study 23
3.3 Initial Survey to the Cost Effectiveness Study 31
3.4 Conclusions 50
Chapter 4 – Safety management benchmarking study 51
4.1 Introduction to Benchmarking study 51
4.2 Research Approach and Results 51
4.3 Discussion of Results 51
4.4 The Way Forward 52
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Chapter 5 – Safety Effectiveness Qualitative Study 62
5.1 Introduction 62
5.2 Maturity is an Important Issue 62
5.3 Focus should be Management and Behaviour not Legislation 63
Chapter 6 – Incident Cost Calculator 65
6.1 Introduction 65
6.2 Methodology for Incident Cost Calculator 65
6.3 Input and Output 66
6.4 Cost Estimation Spread Sheet 66
6.5 Details of Cost Breakdown 69
Chapter 7 – Safety Toolkit 76
7.1 Safety Diagnostic Tool 76
7.2 Toolkit Resource Page 76
Chapter 8 – Key Findings 82
8.1 Findings in Brief 82
8.2 Potential Issues which can be used as Drivers for Improvements 84
8.3 Best Practice in Safety Management World Wide 87
8.4 Drivers and Constraints on OHS Improvement in Hong Kong 89
References 95
Appendices 97
Appendix I - Position Paper on Driving Change for Improved Occupational Health
and Safety in the Hong Kong Construction Industry 97
Appendix II - ANNOUNCEMENT Workshop on recent international developments
in Worker Engagement and Design Management Initiatives 104
Appendix III - The Task and Position Competency Matrix 107
Appendix IV - Summary of Content of Qualitative Interviews 108
Appendix V - Performance of Safety Improvement Tools in Construction Industry 124
Appendix VI - Survey Data (safety expenses) 147
Appendix VII - Safety Diagnostic Questionnaire 157
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Appendix VIII - Benchmarking Survey Data 164
Appendix IX - Effective Worker Engagement 169
Appendix X - The Development of a Guide to Best Practice for Safer Construction 170
Appendix XI - Improving Employees’ Work-Life Balance in the Construction
Industry: Project Alliance Case Study 171
Appendix XII - Procurement Systems: A Cross Industry Project 173
Appendix XIII - Federal Safety Commissioner’s Safety Principles 175
Appendix XIV - C269 Site Health Handbook, CIRIA, London, 2004 176
Appendix XV - Investigation of effectiveness of safety initiatives in HK 178
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Summary of Chapters
Chapter 1
A brief review of OHS performance in the HK construction industry is presented in
order to set the scene for a discussion of safety initiatives and their effectiveness. The
approach to the research is explained and the deliverables enumerated.
Chapter 2
The research programme, the individual studies and the methodologies adopted are
introduced in order to provide a general overview of the work undertaken.
Chapter 3
Two separate studies of cost effectiveness of safety initiatives are reported: the former
deals with "corporate" views and the latter with individual views. The results are
generally consistent but divergences are highlighted and the fallacy of costing
initiatives individually discussed.
Chapter 4
A benchmarking study was undertaken which measured company performance on
four dimensions: human resources management; implementation and procedures;
specific project objectives; organisational management. The study revealed that
although some HK contractors perform very well, the majority fall into low levels of
performance. They consistently performed badly on project specific objectives and
were generally poorer performers than their Japanese counterparts.
Chapter 5
Based on a series of interviews with a wide range of industry participants, a mind map
was constructed of current issues that need to be addressed to improve safety
performance. The issues are broken down into 7 categories and discussed.
Chapter 6
It has been recognised that many industry stakeholders do not know the real cost of
construction site accidents. As a consequence, a cost calculator has been developed
which can produce an estimate of direct financial cost and indirect social costs of an
accident.
Chapter 7
As indicated through the benchmarking study, OHS performance can be significantly
improved and it is necessary to provide a mechanism by which this performance
improvement can be achieved. To this end, a web-based toolkit has been produced
which directs users to resources which can be employed to improve performance.
Such a tool will be of great benefit to the SMEs and subcontractors.
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Chapter 8
The key findings of the separate pieces of research are reported and key issues which
can used to drive improvements are identified. In order to put this into context, best
practice from around the world is reviewed. The chapter concludes with a definitive
list of drivers for OHS improvement and identifies constraints which need to be
removed to facilitate further improvement.
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Chapter 1: Introduction to the research
1.1 The Current Situation
Problem
The problem addressed in this report is the implementation of cost effective safety
initiatives:
throughout a range of projects and organizations;
with a focus on reducing serious accident rates;
with the prospect of a significant increase in output, and demand for
construction workers, in 2010 with the MTRC projects coming on line;
with a sense of urgency given upcoming, major projects.
Context
An underlying theme running throughout the study has been the need for
empowerment of the industry to manage itself effectively. In order to do this many
industry participants have recognized the need for capability development within
individual firms and development of a sustainable industry. As far as safety is
concerned initiatives have been, in the main, very successful on larger, public projects
but a plateau in the improvement trend has now been reached. In order to further
reduce accident rates a different approach needs to be adopted and the industry as a
whole needs to examine the skills required industry wide for further successful
accident rate reduction.
More importantly there is a serious problem in relation to the expected increase in
output within the next two years with the onset of the MTR projects. Accident rates
can be seen to mirror output in the construction industry (see Figure 1.1) and, hence,
we should anticipate a significant increase in the accident rate with the increase in
output. Thus, it is necessary to plan now for the expected upturn - the situation is
URGENT and immediate action is required.
Aims
The aims of the research are:
z to assess the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of safety management
initiatives on the accident and fatality rates in the industry;
z to advise on the future direction of safety management and safety management
initiatives.
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Figure 1.1 - Construction Accident Rates and Construction GDP in Hong Kong
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1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Construction GDP HK$Mn
Accident Rates
Construction Accident Rates and Construction GDP in Hong Kong
Acc. Rates / 1,000 Workers GDP (Construction)
Year
Source: Census and Statistics Department & Labour Department.
Objectives
This research has the following general objectives:
to investigate the cost effectiveness of safety measures in Hong Kong and
provide a framework for the industry to assess these;
to benchmark safety management performance in Hong Kong in comparison to
other countries, and provide a tool for the industry to benchmark on a
continuous basis;
to advise on and recommend further safety initiatives and measures to maintain
continuous improvement in safety performance.
The detailed objectives include, inter alia:
1. Identifying the underlying causes of accidents;
2a. Identifying the costs of accidents;
2b. Providing a tool to calculate the costs;
3a. Investigating the cost effectiveness of HK's safety measures;
3b. Providing a framework to assess the cost effectiveness;
4a. Benchmarking HK's safety performance;
4b. Providing a tool for benchmarking;
5. Advising and recommending on effective safety initiatives and measures to
maintain continuous improvement.
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Rationale
The rationale behind the recommendations in this research is:
successful accident prevention requires a change of mind set - a culture change;
clients, insurers and consultants must collaborate with the contracting side to
drive change;
a fit is required between safety initiatives and capability, leading to
improvement
a maturity gap has been identified between high performing companies and the
rest.
Approach
The objectives of this study are to advise on effective strategies for all sectors and
sizes within the industry. In order to devise these strategies the following needed to be
addressed:
an audit of the current situation, with problems identified and targeted, i.e. the
current issues study;
capabilities and costs identified and change focused on effectiveness, i.e. the
cost effectiveness study and cost calculator;
change needs to be implemented at all levels and in all sectors of the real estate
and construction industry.
1.2 Background to the Research
Hong Kong has moved away from prescriptive safety legislation towards performance
based management of safety and health over the past decade. This move has
obviously met with some success as the accident rate in the construction industry has
continued to fall over this period. Figure 1.2 indicates how a series of initiatives,
commencing with the promulgation of the safety management system approach, has
led to a steady and consistent decline in accident rates. The decline has been such that
the accident rate in Hong Kong’s construction industry is now less than that in the
United States, and is also now lower than that of the catering industry. Hence, at least
in parts of the industry, something has been done correctly and performance has
improved. In order, to maintain this downward trend it is necessary to review existing
initiatives as well as develop new ones.
1.3 The Hong Kong Context
One of the issues to bear in mind in this research is that organisations are all different.
What works effectively in one organisation may not be as effective in another
organisation. Hence, it has been important to widely survey different sectors of the
industry and different levels within organisations in order to draw together a report
which provides a good understanding of what makes initiatives effective. An example
of good practice has been drawn from work in the United Kingdom whereby workers
are empowered to improve safety performance through worker engagement groups.
Such an initiative, which may perhaps be started through the site safety work cycle,
could well be effective in Hong Kong and should be investigated. Also, culture is an
important issue. Not just the national culture but the culture within the organisation.
All countries and organisations exhibit different cultures and in order to make use of
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these cultural traits there is a need to focus on the partnership between worker and
company and between company and industry and to develop the concept of
relationship management and the sharing of common goals in order to improve safety
performance. Additionally, the multi-layered sub-contracting system adopted in Hong
Kong has been seen to be an impediment to safety. This was indicated in the Tang
report and is being addressed by the Construction Industry Council. Hence, these
structural and cultural issues must be included in the safety management process in
order for effectiveness to be properly gauged.
Figure 1.2 - Construction Accident Rates and Safety Schemes in Hong Kong
0
5
10
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1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Number of Schemes
Accident Rates
Construction Accident Rates and Safety Schemes in Hong Kong
Acc. Rates / 1,000 Workers Number of Schemes
Year
Source: Labour Department and HKU research team
The issue of 'Design for Safety' has been regularly raised as an important concern.
The fact that risk assessments related to method statements are now commonplace on
Hong Kong projects has undoubtedly contributed to improvements in safety. However,
the process of involving the client and consultants in the early stages of the project in
considering safety is fraught with difficulty, as the UK has found out (and to a greater
extent the EC with its model) in attempting to implement the UK Construction Design
and Management Regulations. Recent reports have indicated that this approach is
flawed and needs to be remodelled in order to become effective. Work in progress in
Australia (by Lingard, Tombesi, Blismas and Gardiner) which investigates why
simplistic design OHS provisions are unworkable in the complex, socio-technical
process of construction design has informed this research team. This is one area which
needs to be carefully considered and an industry consensus derived so that such an
approach can be effectively implemented. A whole life cycle view may well be the
answer.
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1.4 Existing Initiatives
The initiatives which have been implemented in order to improve construction site
safety might be categorised into four types. These are:
Statutory, based on the Hong Kong Ordinances with the Occupational Safety and
Health Ordinance being an example which introduced safety management systems to
the industry;
Financial, which are to do with providing incentives for safe performance such as the
Pay for Safety Scheme' introduced by Works Bureau contracts in 1994;
Procedural, these initiatives are based around processes which are included in the
construction contract and these might include the Housing Authority PAS Scheme,
the Safety Work Cycle and other similar initiatives;
Punitive-administrative, examples of this would be the Works Bureau's approach to
safety performance, whereby contractors who experience serious accidents on their
sites are brought before a committee, who can advise voluntary suspension from
tendering. The Housing Authority's Superleague might fall into this category.
These initiatives have been assessed in order to form the framework within which the
findings of this research are explained and presented: things which have worked well;
things which need improvement; things which have been ignored but need to be
addressed.
Benchmarking against other countries is an important aspect of safety management.
This research has brought together eminent researchers from Australia, Japan,
Singapore and the United Kingdom along with a number of practitioners and
contractors in those countries. It has become apparent during the research process that
the problems faced are similar worldwide. The advantage of benchmarking is that it
gives an external orientation on an internal assessment of performance and so
indicates areas which have to be addressed in order to effectively improve safety
management both nationally and at an organisational level.
The final and most important objective of this research is to recommend effective
measures for safety management. The research team has drawn together the initiatives
currently being developed and that have already developed in a number of countries,
and identified those measures which have been effective in Hong Kong. The intention
is to formulate a broad strategy for Hong Kong as a region and for Hong Kong
contractors as organisations and for the institutions in Hong Kong as the procurers of
construction work. There has been a discussion on the introduction of Design and
Management Regulations in Hong Kong and the experience in Australia and the UK
of such approaches and their inherent weaknesses ( i.e. the regulations do not
reflect the structure of the industry, designers have a weak understanding of risk
management concepts, etc) have been part of the assessment of the research team. A
strategy for implementing some of the design management issues in Hong Kong is
proposed.
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Chapter 2: Work Undertaken
2.1 Research Programme
The following Chapters report on the main components of the study, which are listed
below:
Cost effectiveness of safety management initiatives study;
Safety management benchmarking study;
Safety effectiveness qualitative study;
Incident cost calculator;
Safety toolkit;
Key findings in brief;
Potential issues which can be used as drivers for improvements;
Best practice in safety management worldwide.
Research Programme Introduction
The programme was divided into five phases:
1. Conduct initial grounded exploratory study and formulate tentative research
model
2. Set up hypotheses, identify drivers and inhibitors to safety effectiveness,
questionnaire construction and refinement for specific aspects of the research
3. Sample framing, case studies, interviews and questionnaire survey
4. Data analysis using a range of statistical and qualitative techniques
5. Validation of research findings
The research adopted a participative approach in which the results of the surveys were
fed back to managers and the effects of the safety initiatives and the perceptions of
managers on the safety performance perceived by employees and other stakeholders
were explored in participating organisations. This provided a valuable benchmarking
exercise for the participating organisations and provided them with an opportunity to
explore new directions in order to improve their performance. It also provided the
researchers with the opportunity to compare and contrast these effects in different
industry sectors and, through collaboration with Australian and UK researchers,
highlighted significant differences, which may be brought about by different cultures.
Sample
The researchers adopted a balanced, cross-sectional sample of the construction
industry in Hong Kong, including a range of interviews with senior managers and
participants from a range of stakeholders in order to develop and confirm the broad
assumptions, working hypotheses, variables and questionnaires to be used. The aim
was to highlight, using a grounded approach, broader level cultural issues; covering
positive and negative aspects and how they affect the safety initiative management
process. The anecdotal data gathered helped to fine-tune the model developed and
added new dimensions which were not captured in previous studies that pertain to the
current Hong Kong construction industry circumstances.
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Analysis
Content analysis, correlation analysis, regression and factor analysis were used and
independent contextual variables and measures of effectiveness were compared to
identify conceptually and statistically acceptable conclusions. Analysis of variance
was used to test for between and within sub-sample group differences.
Corroboration
On completion of the analysis it was necessary to verify and corroborate the research
findings with senior executives and stakeholders to establish causality between
significant findings and identify any anomalies that appeared.
2.2 Specific Studies
Safety Initiative Position Paper
This is an additional element of research work conducted after the main survey and
dealt specifically with providing valuable feedback to participating organisations, the
industry in general and the CIC in order to stimulate change to improve the safety
culture throughout the Hong Kong Construction Industry. The benchmarking process
which is reported in this paper, between and across cultures (through the Australian
and UK study, see below), should enable participants to clearly define their current
position in terms of safety management and identify ways forward for improvement.
The safety initiative position paper is attached as Appendix I.
Safety Initiative Seminars, November 2007
These seminars were an additional output from the research and were focused on
current research findings in Australia and UK and were lead by two leading
researchers in the field of construction safety initiatives. The flyer for the seminars
can be seen in Appendix II. The aim of the seminars was to present best practice in
worker engagement and design management. The open forum then lead to a
discussion of how these issues could be best dealt with in Hong Kong and the
consensus from these seminars and the structured interviews lead to a number of
recommendations in the position paper and to the development of the OHS Task
Competence Matrix which is presented as an additional output from this research, see
Appendix III.
2.3 Specific Methodologies Adopted
Accident Causation
Accident causation factors were investigated at the outset of the research by use of the
methodology previously used by Lingard and Rowlinson and the root cause analysis
employed by Gibb which recognised upstream causal factors (such as design and
client activities) and this was supplemented by the Labour department's current data to
clearly highlight those areas where serious accidents take place. These data were
necessary in order to provide the background for the main interview stage of the study
20
whereby the drivers and inhibitors to successful safety initiatives were investigated
and mapped. This has allowed the development of a taxonomy of safety initiatives
which must be managed in order to maintain the current downward trend in accident
rate.
Safety Effectiveness Qualitative Study
A series of face to face interviews were conducted among 30 different stakeholders in
the construction industry to collect their opinions on the effectiveness of different
safety initiatives. The participants were strategically selected to include, but not
limited to, developers, main contractors of Groups A, B and C, sub-contractors,
suppliers and insurers. The positions of the interviewees include directors, project
managers and safety managers. During the interviews, the interviewees were asked to
share their experiences and express their opinions on current safety initiatives; as well
as suggest new initiatives or areas for future improvement. The interviews were
conducted continuously until the interview contents were saturated. The summary of
these interviews are shown in Appendix IV.
Incident Cost Calculator
An incident cost calculator, for lost time accidents and near miss incidents, was
developed for use in Hong Kong which will be instrumental in assessing cost
effectiveness and, more importantly, allowing contractors, clients and other
stakeholders to understand the true cost of lost time incidents. The methodology
adopted was based on the UK HSE Calculator but was amended to take into account
Tang’s research into the social costs of accidents in Hong Kong. The accuracy of the
calculator was explored using the data recorded by a major contractor and will be
further refined following its implementation in the industry.
Safety Management Benchmarking Study
Safety performance of Hong Kong construction contractors was measured in this
study, aiming to evaluate their current safety performance on four dimensions:
implementation and procedures (IP), specific project objectives (SPO), human
resource management (HRM) and organisational management (OM). A web-based
self-administered questionnaire to benchmark safety performance was developed and
sent to members of the Hong Kong Construction Association. The results indicate that
the majority of the contractors (74%) scored poorly in safety performance (scores
60%) with only one contractor (2%) achieving good safety performance (scores
80%1). The results support the proposition that performance levels are moderated by
the maturity of the contractor, and that this maturity is reflected in management
systems, attitudes and infrastructure within the organisation. All contractors scored
poorly on SPO which is a measure reflecting cooperative design in construction
processes; this result reflects the lack of innovation in procurement systems and the
ineffectiveness of partnering and relationship management in Hong Kong. The results
were presented by the research team in a seminar to the members of the Hong Kong
Construction Association in October 2007.
1 80% being 80% of the maximum possible score.
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Safety Toolkit
Based on previous work undertaken by the researchers a safety toolkit has been
developed which makes use of the data from the Safety Management Benchmarking
Study to identify weaknesses in the safety management system and to suggest, under
four categories, a range of resources which the firm can utilise to improve their safety
management performance. This is a web-based toolkit which can be continuously
improved, adapted and amended through use and should be mounted on a website
such as that of the OSHC.
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Chapter 3: Cost Effectiveness of Safety Management Initiative Study
3.1 Summary
This study has given ambiguous results. For example, respondents identified the green
card system as the least effective safety initiative. However, the green card system
was also seen as being the cheapest initiative. Hence, when the study team calculated
the cost effectiveness of various initiatives, the green card scheme came out as the
most cost effective one. Obviously, this could not be an acceptable result. Thus, the
study team looked at alternative ways of addressing the issue of cost effectiveness in
order to produce a sensible answer to this question. However, it rapidly became
apparent during the course of the study that the continuous improvement in safety
performance over the past 10 years has been the result of the combined impact of a
series of safety initiatives and not the effect of one or more initiatives individually.
Put it simple, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. By promulgating and
implementing a series of linked initiatives, Hong Kong has encouraged the industry to
address safety management in a systematic, holistic manner and so, each initiative has
added something to the process. For the more mature companies, this means that each
and every safety initiative has lead to incremental improvements; for the less mature
companies, specific initiatives have helped to raise the general level (for example, the
introduction of the Green Card system and the enactment of safety management
regulations have had a significant impact). Thus, at different “levels” in the industry,
different initiatives are more “cost effective”. Indeed, many of the respondents have
expressed the view that cost effectiveness is not an appropriate measure of safety
initiative performance. All initiatives together have lead to an overall improvement.
However, anecdotal evidence existed to indicate that the site safety cycle has been
particularly effective and relatively cheap to implement but this initiative cannot be
implemented effectively unless many of the other initiatives are already in place and
function properly. Thus, a hierarchy of safety initiative is shown in the following table:
Table 3.1 Hierarchy of Safety Initiative
Management Legislation Contract
Prerequisite -Safety Management
System
-Safety Management
System
(Factories & Industrial
Undertakings
Regulations)
-OHSAS 18001
-Green card
-Performance
Assessment
Scoring
System
Immature
Operational -SWC
-5S
-Workers registration
-Employee
Compensation
Ordinance
-Pay For
Safety Scheme
Maturing
Improvers -In house inspection
-Independent
engineering check
-Hazard identification
-Accident rate
monitory
-Suspension
from tendering
-Safety
Partnering
Mature
23
Suffice it to say that the most effective safety measures identified in the study were as
follows (no rank order):
Safety Management System
Pay for Safety Scheme
Performance Assessment Scoring System (PASS)
Automatic Suspension from Tendering System
Contractor Performance Index Scheme
Independent Engineering Check
In-House Regular Safety Inspection
Site safety cycle
Employment of Registered Safety Officer/Supervisor
Interestingly, these measures include procedures, personnel, threat of punishment and
the safety management system. However, the results varied with size of contractor
and the safety management system was not reported as effective by the smaller
contractors; perhaps this reflected a lack of maturity in many Hong Kong
organizations which are still focusing on compliance rather than continuous
improvement with the more mature organizations having implemented safety
management systems prior to legislative requirements. This also reflected the
hierarchy concept: without a developed safety management system many initiatives
are effective only in a piecemeal manner. Detailed results can be seen at the end of
this Chapter.
3.2 The Detailed Cost Effectiveness Study
Introduction
For decades, the construction industry has consistently recorded with the highest
accident rate and number of fatalities among all industries in Hong Kong. In 2007,
the construction industry recorded a total of 3,042 industrial accidents, representing
18.9% of all industrial accidents in Hong Kong. The accident rate per 1,000 workers
for the construction industry in 2007 was 60.6, as compared with the rate of 29.3 for
all industries. It is pleasing, however, to note that the number of construction
accidents has shown a consistent, gradual decline since 1998, the number in 2007 has
dropped by 84.5% when compared with the number of 19,588 in 1998 and is the
lowest in the past 10 years. The accident rate per 1,000 workers has also dropped by
75.6% from 247.9 in 1998 to 60.6 in 2007.
The significant improvement in construction safety is largely attributable to the
number of safety initiatives introduced by the government in the past 10 years or so,
such as the safety management system and the safe working cycle. Continuous
review and improvement of these safety initiatives are needed to bring the accident
and fatality rates further down. It is therefore considered timely to assess the
effectiveness of these safety initiatives from the users’ perspective.
24
Aims and objectives of the research study
The research study has been set up with the aim:
to evaluate how the various safety initiatives/schemes have contributed to the
effectiveness of safety performance in Hong Kong.
Specifically, the objectives of the research study are
to consider whether there is a relationship between company size/safety
expenses and accident rate;
to consider the impact of the individual safety initiatives/schemes on safety
performance, and whether a relationship exists between certain safety
initiatives/schemes and accident rate; and
to consider the relative safety resources allocated to the individual safety
initiatives/schemes for large-, medium- and small-sized companies, and develop
ratings of the initiatives/schemes by the companies.
Methodology
The research study has adopted a qualitative approach through action research. In the
study, a survey has been conducted among selected construction companies in Hong
Kong. The survey, in the form of a written questionnaire, has been carefully designed
to capture information on the companies’ extent of involvement in each of the
following safety initiatives/schemes, including the resources allocated, and their
ratings of the initiatives upon implementation:-
Safe working cycle
In-house regular safety inspection
Hazard identification assessment
Safety management system (F&IU)
Safety management system (ISAS/OHSAS 18001)
Employment of Registered Safety Officer/Safety Supervisor
Pay For Safety Scheme (PFSS)
Performance Assessment Scoring System (PASS)
Accident rate monitoring
Green card and other mandatory safety training
Workers registration scheme
Partnering
Law enforcement
Employee compensation insurance
Behavioural studies
Safety scoring scheme in tendering
Suspension from tendering for public works
Independent engineering check
Design and build contracts
The survey has also solicited corporate data relating to annual turnover and annual
man-hours, the corresponding annual safety expenses and annual safety man-hours,
25
and accident rate. Copies of the questionnaires (sample questionnaires are attached in
Appendix V) were sent to selected construction companies representing a cross-
section of the industry by post, fax or email.
Subsequent to the distribution of the questionnaire, a total of 11 completed
questionnaires have been found to be valid for analysis. In some cases, follow up has
also been made with the companies to verify the data entered in the questionnaire.
Statistical analysis was performed on the data given in the questionnaire returns, and
the findings are presented below. In the analysis, the 11 companies covered in the
survey are classified as large-, medium- and small-sized companies based on their
annual turnover. In the interest of confidentiality, the names of the companies are not
given and are represented by the alphabets A-K.
Table 3.2 Sampling
Company Size Annual
turnover
(HK$)
(‘million)
Accident rate
(per 1,000
workers)
Safety
expenses/
Annual
turnover
Safety
expenses/
Total man-
hours
(HK$)
Safety
man-hours/
Total man-
hours
A Large 7,600 8.9 2.50% 6.33 30.00%
B Large 6,000 15.0 (n/a) (n/a) 0.78%
C Large 3,000 15.0 1.00% 2.00 1.00%
D Large 2,340 9.8 0.18% 0.60 0.60%
E Large 1,200 12.6 0.72% 2.09 7.30%
F Medium 379 11.0 1.72% 2.16 19.24%
G Medium (n/a) 23.0 (n/a) 4.01 4.01%
H Small 50 0 1.40% 3.21 1.24%
I Small 50 0 0.10% 1.72 2.76%
J Small 38 32.4 1.16% 1.87 1.01%
K Small 20 8.0 1.00% 3.54 6.64%
Average 2,070 12.3 1.09% 2.75 6.78%
Note
n/a – not available
Definition
Large = Turnover 1 billion
Medium = 100 million Turnover < 1 billion
Small = Turnover < 100 million
Data analysis and findings
Relationship between company size/safety expenses and accident rate
The survey found no particular correlation between company size and accident rate,
the average accident rate had been calculated as 12.3 which was significantly lower
than the corresponding rate for the overall construction industry in 2007. We may say
that the companies surveyed are good performers and have knowledge of all of the
26
safety initiatives/schemes. However, companies with heavy emphasis on private
projects tend to have a higher accident rate.
There was a slight correlation between company size and safety expenses, with the
larger companies tended to be more willing to spend more money on safety.
Considering, however, the calculated average safety expenses of 1% of annual
turnover and $2.7 per man-hour, these amounts may not reflect sufficient efforts put
forward by companies in improving safety. In terms of man-hours, on average safety
related issues contributed only 6.8% of the total man-hours utilized.
There was also a slight correlation between safety expenses and accident rate.
Companies contributing more safety expenses out of total turnover and man-hours
tended to have a lower accident rate.
As a correlation existed between company size and safety expenses and between
safety expenses and accident rate, an indirect relationship should also exist between
company size and accident rate, i.e. larger companies are safer.
Relationship between safety initiatives/schemes and accident rate
Of the specific initiatives/schemes, it was found that there was a correlation between
the safe working cycle and accident rate. Companies with a higher percentage of
projects implementing the safe working cycle and with more resources put into safety
had a lower accident rate. A slight correlation also existed between hazard
identification assessment/independent engineering check and accident rate, companies
which used more safety expenses in these activities tended to have a lower accident
rate. For the other initiatives/schemes, a correlation relationship with the accident rate
could not be established. It has been noted, however, that the four companies which
had not implemented the Pay For Safety Scheme and the Performance Assessment
Scoring System had the highest accident rates among the 11 companies.
Impact of safety initiatives/schemes on safety performance
Findings of the performance of the individual initiatives/schemes were as follows:-
z Safe working cycle
It had been found that the larger companies were more willing to practise the safe
working cycle, as evident from the percentage of projects in practice, and had put in
more resources for the implementation. Their rating of the scheme was quite
satisfactory. It was observed that these companies had a lower accident rate. To
conclude, the safe working cycle was not extensively adopted in the construction
industry.
z In-house regular safety inspection
The larger companies had in general indicated daily inspection, and had put in more
resources into these activities. Their rating of the scheme was quite satisfactory. On
the other hand, the smaller companies in general had less frequent inspection, e.g.,
27
once a week, and most of them had indicated only 0-5% of the total safety
expenses/man-hours in these activities. Their rating of the scheme was average.
z Hazard identification assessment
The large-sized companies indicated with more resources in implementation of hazard
identification assessment, and their rating of the scheme was slightly better than the
small-sized companies. Most of the small-sized companies had put in very little
resources (0-5%) in the scheme.
z Safety management system (F&IU)
The 4 largest companies allocated significant resources (about 20%) in
implementation of the safety management system, and the rating of the system was
quite satisfactory. In comparison, the other companies which had put in far less
resources (about 5%) in implementation, and their rating of the system was only
average.
z Safety management system (ISAS/OHSAS 18001)
The larger companies placed heavy emphasis on implementation of the safety
management system, as evident from the large number of projects in practice (81-
100%) and the expenses and man-hours spent, and their rating of the system was
above average. However, the small-sized companies had very little projects in
practice (0-20%), and their rating of the system was below average.
z Employment of Registered Safety Officer/Safety Supervisor
Most of the companies employed 2 or more safety officers per 100 staff, and the
qualifications of the safety officers vary significantly among the companies. Their
responsibilities mainly include engineering checks, public relations, falsework
arrangement, qualified tradesman registration, and environment matters. All
companies reported the same figure (0-20%) as the percentage of projects employing
safety consultants taking safety officers’ duties, and their rating of the scheme was
positive in general.
z Pay For Safety Scheme (PFSS)
Of the 11 companies surveyed, 4 had not taken part in the PFSS, and these companies
recorded with higher accident rates than the others. For companies which had
implemented the PFSS, only a small portion (about 3%) of their total contract sum
was allocated for the PFSS. Also, staff personnel salaries was reported to be the most
common item that payments were usually under-evaluated.
z Performance Assessment Scoring System (PASS)
The 4 companies which had not taken part in the PFSS, as referred to in the preceding
paragraph, had not taken part in the PASS as well. These companies had recorded
with higher accident rates. Almost all the other companies which had not actively
implemented the PASS, these companies had only 0-20% projects in practice.
28
z Accident rate monitoring
Majority of the companies indicated adoption of the “per 1,000 man-rate” method in
accident rate monitoring. Almost all the companies used less than 5% of their total
safety expenses on the activity. The large-sized companies used relatively more man-
hours, and the other companies used less than 5% of their total man-hours on the
activity. The large-sized companies also tended to rate the system better than the
small-sized companies and used the data to target safety campaigns.
z Green card and other mandatory safety training
About half of the companies used less than 1% of the total safety expenses/man-hours
on green card and other mandatory safety training. The large-sized companies tended
to use more resources on these activities, and reviewed the safety training records on a
more frequent basis.
z Workers registration scheme
The workers registration scheme was widely adopted in the industry as revealed by
the fact that most of the companies implemented the scheme in more than 80% of
their projects. However, the resources allocated to the scheme were very limited.
About half of the companies used less than 1% of the total safety expenses/man-hours
on the scheme.
z Partnering
Partnering was not extensively practised in the industry. 7 companies reported the
implementation of partnering in less than 20% of their projects. As a result, resources
allocated to partnering were limited.
z Law enforcement
Almost all companies reported that only 0-20% of their current projects were under
conviction. The larger companies used relatively more resources in handling legal
matters concerning safety, and working at height was the most common cause leading
to prosecution.
z Employee compensation insurance
The larger companies used more expenses in handling injury claims, and 0-5% was
found to be the most common average percentage of the contract sum spent on injury
compensation.
z Behavioural studies
Most of the companies had not put much emphasis on behavioural studies, as
indicated by the low percentage of projects (0-20%) in practice. The resources put
into behavioural studies were limited.
29
z Safety scoring scheme in tendering
For most companies, the safety scoring scheme was an integral part of their projects
during the tendering stage. Most of the companies considered that their current
weighting of safety performance in the total score is adequate, and their rating of the
scheme was above average.
z Suspension from tendering for public works
In general, the resources involved in the uplifting of suspension from public works
were not significant. About half of the companies used less than 1% of their total
safety expenses in this area.
z Independent engineering check
Almost all companies carried out independent engineering checks on falsework.
However, about half of the companies used less than 1% of the total expenses/man-
hours on safety precautions in relation to engineering checks. The scheme was
considered satisfactory, with the larger companies rating the scheme better than the
small-sized companies.
z Design and build contracts
The design and built contracts was not a popular procurement method in the
construction industry. Most of the companies had less than 20% of their projects
adopting the design and built contracts.
Relationship between Company size and safety resources
It was observed from the above that larger companies had generally put in more safety
resources. Table 3.3 provides a summary of safety expenses/total safety expenses and
safety man-hours/total safety man-hours for each of the individual initiatives/schemes
for the large-, medium- and small-sized companies.
It could be noted that on average the large-sized companies put in significantly more
safety resources than the small-sized companies, the percentages of safety
expenses/safety man-hours for the large-, medium- and small-sized companies being
6.2/7.2, 4.5/7.2 and 4.8/4.7 respectively. Besides, among different initiatives/schemes,
more emphasis had been put on in-house regular safety inspection, hazard
identification assessment, Pay for Safety Scheme, safety management system, and
employment of Registered Safety Officer/Safety Supervisor.
Regarding the ratings of the initiatives/schemes, on average the initiatives/schemes
were rated satisfactory. The large- and medium-sized companies tended to see the
initiatives/schemes more positively than the small-sized companies.
30
Table 3.3 – Summary and Analysis Safety Expenses
Notes
L – large-sized companies, M – medium-sized companies, S – small-sized companies
Rating – excellent = 5, good = 4, fair = 3, marginal = 2, poor = 1
n/a – not available
Note: See Appendix VI for the survey data.
Safety
expenses/Total
safety expenses
(%)
Safety man-hours/
Total safety man-
hours (%)
Rating of the
Scheme/
System Scheme/System
L M S L M S L M S
Safe working cycle 2.6 5.0 2.5 3.0 5.0 3.5 3.0 3.5 3.0
In-house regular safety
inspection 11.5 12.5 7.5 15.3 17.5 6.3 3.8 4.0 3.0
Hazard identification assessment 8.6 3.8 8.8 13.4 14.0 10.0 3.4 4.0 3.0
Safety management system
(F&IU) 16.2 3.8 7.5 16.2 11.3 11.3 3.8 3.5 3.0
Safety management system
(ISAS/OHSAS 18001) 9.4 3.8 6.3 12.2 16.5 7.5 3.6 3.5 2.5
Employment of Registered
Safety Officer/Safety Supervisor 7.8 14.0 12.5 (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) 3.6 4.5 3.7
Pay For Safety Scheme (PFSS) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) 14.0 13.0 10.0 3.7 4.0 3.3
Performance Assessment
Scoring System (PASS) 5.5 2.5 5.0 5.5 2.5 5.0 3.7 4.0 2.7
Accident rate monitoring 6.0 3.8 6.3 7.4 3.8 6.3 3.6 3.5 3.0
Green card and other mandatory
safety training 3.4 1.8 3.0 3.8 0.8 3.5 3.4 3.5 3.5
Workers registration scheme 3.7 0.8 2.0 3.8 0.8 1.5 3.0 3.5 3.5
Partnering 1.3 0.5 1.7 2.0 7.0 1.7 3.0 4.0 3.3
Law enforcement 4.5 0.8 1.0 5.8 1.8 1.0 3.8 3.5 3.3
Employee compensation
insurance 10.6 9.0 6.3 (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) 3.3 4.0 2.8
Behavioural studies 1.5 2.5 1.7 1.5 7.0 1.7 2.5 4.0 2.7
Safety scoring system in
tendering (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) 4.2 7.0 2.5 3.6 4.5 3.3
Suspension from tendering for
public works 3.8 4.0 2.0 4.0 5.0 2.0 4.0 4.0 3.0
Independent engineering check 2.5 2.8 2.0 2.5 2.8 2.0 4.0 4.5 3.0
Design and build contracts (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) 3.0 3.5 3.0
Average 6.2 4.5 4.8 7.2 7.2 4.7 3.5 3.9 3.1
31
3.3 Initial Survey to the Cost Effectiveness Study
Introduction
In order to paint a broad picture of the effectiveness of safety initiatives a broad
ranging initial survey was conducted before the detailed cost effectiveness study. The
study aimed to inform the detailed study and had the following objectives:
1. determine the relative importance of safety factors in safety improvement;
2. determine the effectiveness of named safety initiatives;
3. determine the relative costs of these initiatives.
The safety initiatives studied were as follows:
z Site Supervision Plan System
z Pay for Safety Scheme
z Contractor Performance Index System
z Automatic Suspension from Tendering System
z Performance Assessment Scoring System
z Safety Management Scheme
z Green Card Scheme
z F&IU Ordinance and Regulations and OSH Ordinance and Regulations
Methodology
The methodology for the research is through the data collection by structured
questionnaires which were sent to 38 randomly selected Hong Kong Construction
Association members from the total of 57 members listed in the Approved
Contractors of ETWB and the list of the Building Contractors of Housing Authority in
Hong Kong for running of the public works projects for their responses. It ensures that
the selected contractors are experienced in and familiar with the safety initiatives to be
investigated in this research. The questionnaire consists of four parts. Part I of the
questionnaire is to collect the general information of the respondent including the
respondent’s working experience, company position and business nature of
respondent’s company.
Part II of the questionnaire is to determine the degree of importance of the safety
factors in the safety performance improvement. The respondent was asked the below
question:
“Which of the following safety factors is more important for the improvement of
safety performance?”
Likert-type scales ranging from 1 to 5 for representing from not important to
extremely important was used in the questionnaire. The respondent was required to
indicate the degree of importance for each safety factor by giving a tick in the selected
box from not important to extremely important.
32
Part III of the questionnaire is to determine the effectiveness of the safety initiatives
by studying for effective each safety initiative is on the improvement / motivation and
promotion of each of the safety factors.
Likert-type scales ranging from 1 to 5 for representing from not significant to
extremely significant were used in the questionnaire. The respondent was required to
indicate the degree of significance of each safety initiative on the improvement,
motivation and promotion of each of the safety factor by giving a tick in the selected
box from not significant to extremely significant.
Part IV is to determine the significant cost on implementation of the safety initiatives.
A list of cost factors was identified and the respondent is asked the question:
“Which of the following cost factors is the significant cost on the implementation of a
safety scheme?”
Likert-type scales ranging from 1 to 5 for representing from not cost significant to
extremely cost significant. The respondent was required to indicate the degree of cost
significance for each cost factor by giving a tick in the selected box from not cost
significant to extremely cost significant. The second objective in this part is to
determine for the relative cost index of the safety initiatives and the following
question was asked:
“Please rank the safety initiatives from the most costly to the least costly in term of
overall cost by taking the captioned cost factors into consideration”
The respondent was invited to rank each of the safety initiatives according to their
implementation cost. Scores from 1 to 8 were given to the safety initiatives according
to their ranking from least costly to the most costly. Only direct cost (the cost factor in
the first question of this Part) for the implementation of the safety initiatives will be
considered.
The data collected from Part 1 was analyzed to determine the respondent’s
background and characteristics;
The data collected from Part 2 and 3 was analyzed to determine the Importance Factor
of each of the safety factors and the Relative Effectiveness Index of each of the safety
initiatives;
The data collected from Part 4 was used to determine the Relative Cost Index of each
of the safety initiatives. By multiplying the Relative Effectiveness Index and Relative
Cost Index, the Cost-effectiveness Index of each of the safety initiatives can be
determined. The detail of sampling and data collection and analysis were described in
the following Chapter.
Sampling and Data Collection
The Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA) has about 320 members
representing local and overseas contractors operating in Hong Kong. It represents its
members to negotiate and resolve problems related to the industry as well as for
improving communication, streamline work practices and regulatory measures with
the relevant Government departments.
33
Data collection took place by inviting contractors who are members of HKCA, and all
of them are on the list of the Approved Contractors of ETWB and the list of the
Building Contractors of Housing Authority in Hong Kong for running of the public
works projects. This ensured that selected contractors are experienced and familiar
with the safety initiatives investigated in this research. Due to limitation of resource
and time, 65% of the HKCA members on the Works Contracts List in both of the
ETWB and Housing Department were randomly selected for participating in the
survey as shown in the Sampling Procedure in Figure 3.1.
The project and safety management staff of the selected contractors which include the
contracts managers, project managers, safety managers, construction managers, site
agents, and safety officers etc., were invited to participate in a structured
questionnaire. The research procedures are summarized as below:
z Correspond with the HKCA for permission to approach its members for
participation in the survey;
z Obtain the Building Contractors List of the Hong Kong Authority and the
Approved Contract List of Environment Transport and Works Bureau from
their web sites;
z Identify HKCA members who are on the list of building contractors in the
Housing Department and identify approved contractors on the list from ETWB.
Of the identified contractors, 65% were randomly selected for participating in
the survey;
z Distribute covering letter, summary briefing of the safety initiatives, and five
copies of the questionnaire with a stamped envelope to the selected contractors.
The covering letter explains the purpose of the research and requests the
contractors to distribute the questionnaire to management and safety staff with
experience in the safety initiatives;
Total 320 HKCA
Members
Total 263
Approved
Contractors In
List of the
ETWB’
Total 71 Building
Contractors in
List of the
Housing
Authority
57 HKCA members
listed in both of the
ETWB and Housing
Department for the
public works contracts
65% (ie 38 in Nos) out of
the 57 HKCA members
are randomly selected to
participate in the survey. 5
questionnaires are
distributed to each of the
selected contractors
Figure 3.1 Sampling Procedure
34
z Analyse the collected data from the returned questionnaires to determine the
importance factor of the safety factors, the relative effectiveness index, relative
cost index and the cost-effectiveness index.
Data Analysis
The collected data was analysed by Excel based using the following preset formulae
in order to work out the importance factor of safety factors, relative effectiveness
index REI (initiative), relative cost index RCI (initiative) and the cost-effectiveness
index of each safety initiative CEI (initiative). The explanation of the calculation of
those safety factors can be seen in the following two pages. The higher the relative
effectiveness index, the more effective an initiative is in improving safety
performance; a higher relative cost-effectiveness index indicates a more cost-effective
initiative for safety improvement.
The cost-effectiveness index CEI (initiative) comprises two variables, namely the
relative cost index of the initiative RCI (initiative) and the relative effectiveness index
of the initiative REI (initiative). The cost-effectiveness index of each initiative CEI
(initiative) can be calculated by the following formula:
CEI (initiative) =
where
RCI (initiative) = relative cost index of the safety initiative (the cost variable is
indirectly proportional to the CEI (initiative)
REI (initiative) = relative effectiveness index of the safety initiative
Determination of the Relative Effectiveness Index of the Initiative – REI
(initiative)
The REI (initiative) can be calculated by the formula:
REI (initiative)
where
ES (initiative) = effectiveness score of the safety initiative
HES (initiative) = the safety initiative with the highest effectiveness score
The effectiveness score of each safety initiative ES (initiative)
ES (initiative) = MES (safetysubfactor)
The mean effectiveness score of safety sub factor MES (safety sub factor):
MES (safetysubfactor) = IF (safetysubfactor) x MR (safetysubfactor)
where
IF (safety sub factor) = importance factor of each safety sub factor
MR (safety sub factor) = mean ranking of each safety sub factor can be significantly
improved / promoted by the safety initiative
1
RCI
(
initiative
)
X REI (initiative)
ES (initiative)
HES (initiative)
35
Determination of the Importance Factor of the Safety Sub Factors IF (Safety
sub factor) and the Safety Main Factor IF (SMF)
IF (safetysubfactor)=
Where
f = frequency of responses to each rating for importance of the safety sub factor
r = ranking of importance given to the safety
N =total number of respondents
IF (SMF)=
Where
IF (SMF) = importance factor of the safety main factor
IF (Safety sub factor) = importance factor of the safety sub factor
N = number of the safety sub factors under the safety main factor
The safety factor with a higher Importance Factor (IF) represents the factor that is
more effective in the improvement of safety performance.
Determination of the Mean Ranking of Each Safety Factor MR
(safetysubfactor)
MR (safetysubfactor) =
Where
f = frequency of responses to each rating for the safety sub factor
r = ranking given to the safety sub factor can be significantly improved / promoted by
the safety initiative
N = total number of respondents
The safety initiative with a higher the Relative Effectiveness Index REI (initiative)
represents the safety initiative that is more effective in the improvement of safety
performance.
Determination of the relative Cost Index – RCI (initiative)
The RCI (initiative) can then be derived by the formula:
RCI (initiative) =
Were
RCS (initiative) = relative cost score of the safety initiative
LRCS (initiative) = the safety initiative with the lowest relative cost score
fxr
N
)( actorsafetysubfIF
N
RCS (initiative)
LRCS (initiative)
fxr
N
36
The relative cost score of each safety initiative RCS (initiative)
REC (initiative) =
Where
f = frequency of responses to each rating for cost significance of the safety initiatives
r = ranking of cost significance given to the safety initiatives by the respondents
N = total number of respondents
The safety initiative with a lower Relative Cost Index RCI (initiative) is the initiative
with lower implementation cost.
Results and Findings
z Respondents’ Background
A total of 194 questionnaires were distributed to 38 randomly selected contractors
from the total 57 contractors listed on the ETWB and HA. 40 questionnaires were
received from 17 of the selected companies. The response rate in terms of issued
questionnaire and in terms of invited companies is 20.6% and 44% respectively.
Questionnaire and data can be seen in Appendix XV.
The background of respondents was classified in terms of their managerial function
(including the top management, project management and safety management),
experience and position as summarized in the Table 3.4.
Table 3.4 Summary of Respondents’ Background
Respondent Managerial
Function Experience Position
1 S B Safety Manager
2 T D Director
3 T F Director
4 P D Project Manager
5 T F Project Director
6 P B Site Agent
7 P D Project Manager
8 P C Contracts Manager
9 S D Safety Manager
10 P C Construction Manager
11 P E Site Agent
12 S D Safety Manager
13 S B Safety Officer
14 S B Safety Officer
15 S A Safety Officer
16 S B Safety Officer
17 T E Director
Fxr
N
37
18 S B Safety Officer
19 S D Safety Officer
20 P E Contracts Manager
21 P E Project Manager
22 S D Division Safety Manager
23 S D Safety Officer
24 S B Safety Officer
25 P D Project Manager
26 S B Safety Officer
27 S A Safety Officer
28 S B Safety Officer
29 S B Safety Officer
30 P D Site Agent
31 P C Project Manager
32 S A Safety Officer
33 S F Safety Manager
34 P D Contracts Manager
35 S D Safety Manager
36 S B Safety Officer
37 S D Assistant Safety Manager
38 S C Safety Officer
39 S C Safety Officer
40 S E Safety Manager
Legend
Experience
A 1-5 years B 6-10 years C 11-15 years
D 16-20 years E 21-25 years F Over 25 years
Function
T Top Management P Project Management S Safety Management
Regarding the respondents’ background, 53% of the respondents had extensive
experience with over 16 years in the construction industry. 60% of the respondents
were working in safety management, 30% were working in project management and
10% were in the top management.
z Summary of Finding / Results
The data were analysed to determine the following indexes based on the method as
mentioned in the previous chapter of methodology:
z Importance factor of safety factor IF (Safetyfactor)
z Importance factor of safety main factor IF (SMF)
z Relative cost index of safety initiative REI (initiative)
z Relative effectiveness index of safety initiative REI (initiative)
38
z Cost-effectiveness index of safety initiative CEI (initiative)
Please refer to Table 3.5 for the Summary of Data Analysis.
39
Table 3.5 Summary of Data Analysis
(1)
Safety
Initiatives
(2)
Total
Effectiveness
Score (ES)
(3)
The Highest
Effectiveness
Score (HES)
(4)
Relative
Effectiveness
Index (REI) (2)
/ (3)
(5)
Relative Cost
Score (RCS)
(6)
The Lowest Relative
Cost Score(LRCS)
(7)
Relative Cost
Index (RCI)
(5) / (6)
(8)
Cost
-effectiveness Index
(CEI)
1 / (7) x (4)
A SSPS 452.76 500.48 0.905 4.540 2.430 1.868 0.484
B PFSS 490.56 500.48 0.980 6.030 2.430 2.481 0.395
C CPIS 470.86 500.48 0.941 3.830 2.430 1.576 0.597
D ASTS 457.81 500.48 0.915 3.660 2.430 1.506 0.607
E PASS 482.3 500.48 0.964 4.710 2.430 1.938 0.497
F SMS 500.48 500.48 1.000 5.860 2.430 2.412 0.415
G GCS 381.42 500.48 0.762 2.430 2.430 1.000 0.762
H REG 467.68 500.48 0.934 4.940 2.430 2.033 0.460
40
Figure 3.2 Importance Factors of the Safety Main Factor in Organization Level
Safety Main Factors in Organization Level Legend Importance
Factor
Administrative and Management Commitment I (OL) 4.25
Health and Safety Training II (OL) 4.02
Selection and Control of Subcontractors III (OL) 4.10
Safety Audit and Review IV (OL) 3.58
Accident Record V (OL) 3.70
Legislation, Codes and Standards VI (OL) 4.10
Figure 3.2 revealed that the highest value of Importance Factor of the “Administrative
and management commitment” was 4.25. It implied that this safety main factor is the
most important in the improvement of the safety performance. The safety main factor
comprises the seven factors including the “Top management commitment in safety”;
“Development of a clear and achievable safety policy”; “Establishment of safety
organization”; “Clearly definition of safety responsibility”; “Development of in-house
safety rules and disciplinary”; “Implementation of safety management system in
accordance with legislation” and “Allocation of adequate/ sufficient budget for
safety”. In contrast, the safety main factor “Safety Audit and Review” was the least
Importance Factor and was valued 3.58.
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
4.4
I (OL) II (OL) III (OL) IV (OL) V (OL) VI (OL)
Safe ty Main Fac tor (SMF)
Importance factor (IF)
41
Figure 3.3 Importance Factors of the Safety Main Factor in Project Level
Safety Main Factors in Project Level Legend Importance
Factor
Project Management I (PL) 3.92
Information, Training and Promotion II PL) 3.87
Safety Implementation & Inspection III (PL) 4.12
Accident Recording, Reporting and Investigation IV (PL) 3.85
Emergency Procedures V (PL) 3.78
Safety Audit and Review VI (PL) 3.66
Figure 3.3 showed the main factor “Safety Implementation and Inspection” had the
highest Importance Factor 4.12 in project level. The main factor comprises the safety
sub factor of “Conduction of safety promotion and toolbox talk”; “Provision of plant
and equipment inspection and maintenance”; “Provision of safe working
environment:; “Preparation of clear method statement and hazard/ risk assessment
study”; and “Conduction of site safety inspection and supervision”. The “Site Safety
Review” was the least importance factor.
Importance factor (IF)
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7
3.8
3.9
4
4.1
4.2
I (PL) II (PL) III (PL) IV (PL) V (PL) VI (PL)
Safety Main Factor (SMF)
42
Figure 3.4 Importance Factors of the Safety Sub Factors
0
1
2
3
4
5
123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233
Safety Sub Factors
Safety Sub Factor IF
1 Top management commitment in safety 4.73
2 Development of a clear and achievable safety policy & publicize to
all employees 4.15
3 Establishment of safety organization 4.15
4 Clearly definition and delegation of safety responsibility 4.18
5 Development of in-house safety rules and disciplinary 4.08
6 Implementation of safety management system in accordance with
legislation 3.98
7 Allocation of adequate/ sufficient budget for safety 4.48
8 Allocation of adequate/ sufficient resources for training 4.10
9 Development of organizational safety training 3.93
10 Incorporation of safety requirement in subcontractors selection 4.13
11 Provision of safety induction and performance monitoring for
subcontractors 4.08
12 Implementation of internal and external safety audit 3.60
13 Conduction of organizational safety policy review 3.55
14 Provision of statistical data for the causes and number of accidents 3.70
15 Compliance with occupational safety and health legislation, codes
and Standards 4.10
16 Definition of safety responsibility to all site personnel 3.95
17 Development of site safety committee 3.88
18 Provision of safety training to site personnel 3.95
19 Provision of update safety information 3.90
20 Conduction of safety promotion and toolbox talk 3.75
21 Provision of plant and equipment inspection and maintenance 4.25
22 Provision of safe working environment 4.35
23 Preparation of clear method statement and hazard/ risk assessment
study etc 4.18
24 Conduction of site safety inspection and supervision 4.13
25 Provision of safety systems of works (eg. Hot Work Permit) 3.83
Importance factor (IF)
43
26 Employment of safety officer and safety supervisor 4.10
27 Provision of safety protective equipment 4.00
28 Maintain procedural system for accident investigation, recording and
reporting 3.80
29 Conduction of accident investigation and analysis 3.90
30 Development of emergency plan and procedures 3.78
31 Conduction of safety hazard review 3.85
32 Conduction of site safety policy review 3.50
33 Implementation of safety audit 3.63
Figure 3.4 revealed the result of the Importance Factors for each of the safety sub
factors. The result showed that the “Top management commitment in safety in
organization level” and “Allocation of adequate/ sufficient budget for safety” were the
most important safety sub factors within organization level. The Importance Factor of
them was 4.73 and 4.48 respectively. The result was in line with previous researches:
(Cohen, 1977) pointed out that continuous management support is a critical part of a
successful safety program.
(O’ Toole, 2002) believed that the employees see the perceived management support
for safety as indicator of relative importance. Perceived support of the safety program
is a major contributor to a successful program.
(Michael, et.al 2005) emphasised that “Organization with a strong commitment to
safety may enjoy not only a reduction in safety-relative event but also increases in
desirable employee attitudes and behaviours.”
(Zohar, 1980) indicated that the management commitment to safety is such an
important cornerstone of safety programs.
In project level, the result shows that “Provision of plant and equipment inspection
and Maintenance” and the “Provision of safe working equipment” are the most
importance factors on the safety performance improvement.
Previous literatures found that the causes of accidents are the result of unsafe
conditions or unsafe acts and many accidents are a combination of both factors
(Peyton, 1991, Heinrich, 1931 and Cohen, 1977).
(Anton, 1979) stated that improvement in the environment can help eliminate the
unsafe physical condition” and emphasised that all behaviour cannot be changed. But
behavioural characteristics can be modified under the right conditions and proper
environment. If there is a change in the workplace environment, whether good or bad,
the worker will most likely psychologically or physiologically respond to that change
in a like manner.
In contrast, the result indicated that the “Safety audit and review” both in organization
and project level were of not so importance on the safety improvement.
44
The relative effectiveness Index (REI) of each safety initiative is shown in Figure 3.5.
Figure 3.5 Relative Effectiveness Indexes of Safety Initiatives
Safety
Initiatives REI
SSPS 0.905
PFSS 0.980
CPIS 0.941
ASTS 0.915
PASS 0.964
SMS 1.000
GCS 0.762
REG 0.934
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
SSPS PFSS CPIS ASTS PASS SM S GCS REG
Safety Initiatives
The result showed that safety management system SMS represented the statutory –
self regulated approach had the highest relative effectiveness index, which implied the
system was the most effective in safety performance improvement. Besides, the pay
for safety system (PFSS) was also considered to be very effective safety initiatives as
it obtained a high relative effectiveness index following and close to the relative
effectiveness index of Safety Management System. As mentioned before, the PFSS
was a financial (incentive) approach, a number of researches showed that safety
incentive program was very effective on safety performance improvement.
(Haines III, Merrheim and Roy, 2001) found that safety incentive programs were
more likely to be the effective components of health and safety strategies when they
implemented in settings with positive supervisor-subordinate relationship and within
interdependent teams that shared safety norms.
(McAfee and Winn, 1989 p15) revealed that “every study without exception, found
that incentives or feedback enhanced safety and / or reduced accidents in the
workplace, at least in the short term”
(CHU, 1999) “The Proposed “pay for Safety Scheme” may provide sufficient
incentive since the contractor can be awarded of a considerable sum of money.”
The relative effectiveness index of the Ordinance and Legislation, which representsed
the statutory category was 0.934 and was lower that SMS, PFSS, PASS and CPIS. It
reflected the system was not so effective as compared with other initiatives in the
Relative Effectiveness Index (REI)
45
improvement of safety performance. (Lingard and Rowlinson, 1994) pointed out the
following reasons:
z There is a shortage of Labour Department occupational safety officers to
monitor safety practices and for carrying the workplace safety inspection in
respect of a large number of industrial workplace;
z Lower prosecution rate although the fact that violations of the law are
commonplace;
z The penalties for breaching the safety law were so low that fines resulting from
prosecution were calculated as part of the cost of the building. The fine imposed
is often a derisory sum which resulting the employers had been continuing to
ignore safety practices.
In contrast, Green Cards Scheme (GCS) obtained the lowest REI and was considered
to be the least effective safety initiative. It is not difficult to understand that the green
card scheme had the lowest effectiveness index. In fact, it cannot expect that a worker
can be significantly changed his mind and improve himself in safety by one day
training.
(Fong, 2000) suspected that “one-day CITA green card course and other tool-box
talks lasted for 10 minutes might help the workers develop a strong safety attitude or
culture and he raised examples for supporting his point of view”
Besides, (Anton, 1979:72) emphasised that: “Employee safety training should begin
on the first day at the workplace and should continue periodically for the length of the
worker’s affiliation with the company.”
It is clear that training for safety must be continuous.
46
The relative cost index (RCI) of each safety initiative was shown in Figure 3.6 below.
The RCI for PFSS was 2.481 which is the highest. It implied that the scheme demands
for a high cost for its implementation. In addition, the result showed that the cost
required for implementation of the Green Card was the lowest.
Figure 3.6 Relative Cost Indexes of Safety Initiatives
Safety
Initiatives REI
SSPS 1.868
PFSS 2.481
CPIS 1.576
ASTS 1.506
PASS 1.938
SMS 2.412
GCS 1.000
REG 2.033
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
SSPS PFSS CPIS ASTS PASS SMS GCS REG
Safety Initiatives
Relative Index (RCI)
47
Figure 3.7 showed that the “Incentive cost paid to the contractor” was the most
significant cost factor in safety initiatives. It answers why the Pay for Safety Scheme
had the highest relative cost index as the principle of the scheme was based on
financial incentive.
Figure 3.7 Major Cost for Safety Initiatives
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
Check, keep,
inspect safety
document
Regular and
ac hoc work
place
inspection
Attend safety
meetings
Deploy
external safety
auditor
Incentive cost
paid to
contractor
Cost Factor
Cost Factor Check, keep,
inspect
safety
document
Regular and
ad hoc work
place
inspection
Attend
safety
meetings
Deploy
external
safety
auditor
Incentive
cost paid to
contractor
Average
Cost Score
3.15 3.33 3.13 3.74 4.1
Average Cost Score
48
The cost-effectiveness Index (CEI) of each safety initiative was shown in the below
Figure 3.8.
Figure 3.8 Cost-effectiveness Indexes of Safety Initiatives
Safety
Initiatives REI
SSPS 0.484
PFSS 0.395
CPIS 0.597
ASTS 0.607
PASS 0.497
SMS 0.415
GCS 0.762
REG 0.460
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
SSPS PFSS CPIS ASTS PASS SMS GCS REG
Safety Initiatives
In terms of the cost-effectiveness, the result showed that PESS had the lowest cost-
effectiveness index which reflects that the scheme was not cost-effective even through
it had a higher relative effectiveness index as mentioned before. The reason was due
to the highest implementation cost that required for the initiatives. Looking into the
Guideline on Safety Price Level for the Public Works Contracts under the Pay For
Safety Scheme, the contract with a contract sum below 200 million, 2% of the
contract sum was required for the scheme implementation. For the contract with
contract sum about 200 million, 1 to 2% of the contract sum was required for the
scheme implementation.
In contrast, although the green card scheme had the lowest relative effectiveness index
0.762, in terms of cost-effectiveness, it was the most cost-effective initiative and had
the highest relative cost-effectiveness index 0.762. The reason may be due to the fact
that the implementation cost for the green card training was the lowest (i.e. with the
lowest relative cost index) as compared with other safety initiatives and the training
cost was usually paid by the employees, not by the employers.
Cost Effectiveness Index (CEI)
49
Table 3.6 Cost-effectiveness Index
(1)
Safety
Initiatives
(2)
Total
Effectiveness
Score (ES)
(3)
The Highest
Effectiveness
Score (HES)
(4)
Relative
Effectiveness
Index (REI)
(2) / (3)
(5)
Relative Cost
Score (RCS)
(6)
The Lowest
Relative Cost
Score (LRCS)
(7)
Relative Cost
Index (RCI)
(5) / (6)
(8)
Cost-
effectiveness
Index (CEI)
1/ (7) x (4)
A SSPS 452.76 500.48 0.905 4.540 2.430 1.868 0.484
B PFSS 490.56 500.48 0.980 6.030 2.430 2.481 0.395
C CPIS 470.86 500.48 0.941 3.830 2.430 1.576 0.597
D ASTS 457.81 500.48 0.915 3.660 2.430 1.506 0.607
E PASS 482.3 500.48 0.964 4.710 2.430 1.938 0.497
F SMS 500.48 500.48 1.000 5.860 2.430 2.412 0.415
G GCS 381.42 500.48 0.762 2.430 2.430 1.000 0.762
H REG 467.68 500.48 0.934 4.940 2.430 2.033 0.460
Legends:
SSPS = Site Supervision Plan System
PFSS = Pay for Safety Scheme
CPIS = Contractor Performance Index System
ASTS = Automatic Suspension from Tendering System
PASS = Performance Assessment Scoring System
SMS = Safety Management Scheme
GCS = Green Card Scheme
REG = F&IU Ordinance and Regulations and OSH Ordinance and Regulations
50
3.4 Conclusions
This paper reported on the results of two research studies which aimed to find out:
from industry personnel how far the various initiatives/schemes introduced by
the government have been implemented in their companies and their ratings of
the individual initiatives/schemes;
from a range of companies the costs of implementing these schemes and how
successful they had been in improving OHS performance.
In terms of cost effectiveness, the Green Card Scheme was rated highly by individuals
but shortcomings in the scheme were also noted. Indeed, the key issue was that the
Green Card Scheme was not designed to be an effective safety measure on its own.
As well as providing additional training above and beyond the very basic Green Card
syllabus many other elements of the safety management system needed to be in place
for it to be effective. Thus, the consistent view put forward from survey respondents is
that safety initiatives are a “package” and one cannot select “a few cost effective
measures” without considering the infrastructure provided by the whole package.
The survey found no particular correlation between company size and accident rate.
A slight correlation, however, has been found between company size and safety
expenses and between safety expenses and accident rate. It can be interpreted,
therefore, that an indirect relationship should exist between company size and
accident rate. That is, company size and accident rate should correlate provided that a
correlation relationship with safety expenses co-exists. Further research is needed to
confirm this finding.
Of the specific initiatives/schemes, it was found that there was a correlation between
the safe working cycle and accident rate. Companies with a higher percentage of
projects implementing the safe working cycle and with more resources put into safety
had a lower accident rate. A slight correlation also existed between hazard
identification assessment/independent engineering check and accident rate, companies
which used more safety expenses in these activities tended to have a lower accident
rate. It had also been noted that the 4 companies which had not implemented the Pay
For Safety Scheme and the Performance Assessment Scoring System had the highest
accident rates among the 11 companies.
Further analysis shown that on average the large-sized companies had put in
significantly more safety resources than the small-sized companies. Of the different
initiatives/schemes, more emphasis had been put on in-house regular safety inspection,
hazard identification assessment, Pay for Safety Scheme, safety management system,
and employment of Registered Safety Officer/Safety Supervisor. On average, all the
initiatives/schemes were rated satisfactory. The large- and medium-sized companies
tended to see the initiatives/schemes more positively than the small-sized companies.
51
Chapter 4: Safety Management Benchmarking Study
4.1 Introduction to Benchmarking study
Safety performance of Hong Kong construction contractors was measured in this
study, aiming to evaluate their current safety performance on four dimensions:
implementation and procedures (IP), specific project objectives (SPO), human
resource management (HRM) and organisational management (OM). Benchmarking
gives an external orientation on an internal assessment of performance and indicates
areas which management should particularly address, and thus contribute to effective
improvement of safety performance at an organisational level.
4.2 Research Approach and Results
In July 2007, a web-based self-administered questionnaire to benchmark safety
performance was developed and sent to members of the Hong Kong Construction
Association (Please refer to Appendix VII for the Safety Diagnostic Questionnaire
and Appendix VIII for survey data). A total of 53 completed questionnaires were
returned and the preliminary results of the benchmarking were presented in Figure 4.1.
It is observed that local contractors generally scored highest in IP, least in SPO and
moderately in HRM and OM. In addition, certain contractors achieve a significantly
higher level of safety performance than the industry norm. This phenomenon was
further demonstrated in Table 4.1 indicating that the majority of the contractors (74%)
scored poorly in safety performance (scores 60%) with only one contractor (2%)
achieving good safety performance (scores 80%2). The results echo the proposition
that performance levels are moderated by the maturity of the contractor, and that this
maturity is reflected in management systems, attitudes and infrastructure within the
organisation. The data collected in this study is compared with that obtained in Japan,
and it can be seen that Hong Kong construction contractors’ performance falls below
Japanese standards, in that a much higher proportion of Japanese contractors perform
well (although 35% of the sample performed badly). However, in terms of SPO
Japanese standards were also low compared with the other three dimensions. Thus,
one can conclude that Hong Kong contractors can improve but that performance in
other countries is not necessarily too far ahead of Hong Kong. The results were
presented by the research team in a seminar to the members of the Hong Kong
Construction Association in October 2007.
4.3 Discussion of Results
The results of the benchmarking study of contractors were presented in early October,
2007. The results gave rise to a number of questions from those contractors who had
participated in the study. The most striking result was that many respondents, even
high performing respondents, failed to perform adequately on the dimension of
“project specific objectives”. Indeed, there was only one respondent organisation
which could be classified as a good performer and over 40% of respondents were
classed as poor performers. This contrasts poorly with the Japanese study undertaken
2 Given the five level maturity model presented on page 60 the performance levels of 80% for
continuously improving companies, and 60% for those compliance driven companies were chosen.
This also reflected natural “breaks” in the Hong Kong and Japanese samples.
52
previously whereby over 40% of respondents were classed as good. The key issue
arising from this benchmarking study was proactiveness in driving safety issues AT
ALL PHASES, which includes the pre-contract phase and reflects an inability to
effectively manage client expectations and focus clients on safety issues at the outset.
Indeed, this laggardly performance of the Hong Kong construction industry in
adopting novel procurement methods and implementing alliancing and partnering
arrangements, all of which have been shown to have a positive effect on OHS
performance. This is a strength of the Japanese system where a safety culture is
“endemic” throughout the whole of the industry. The results show that although the
best Hong Kong contractors comply with all legislative and contractual needs and
many go well beyond these they still struggle to influence the attitudes of major and
smaller clients in terms on OH&S both on site and in considering the whole life cycle
of the building or structure. For a contemporary view on this see the recent initiative
launched by the Australian Federal government on 21/4/08 at
http://www.fsc.gov.au/ofsc/Otherinformation/Publications/ModelClientpublications.ht
m
4.4 The Way Forward
As this study dealt with the role of the safety management system within the business
this is an area which needs to be addressed by the steering committee. Indeed,
feedback indicates that this is a structural problem inherent in the construction process
which needs to be addressed by the industry as a whole, particularly the developers
who drive the process. The research team recommends that a similar study to that
undertaken in Australia be conducted through REDA in order to identify
commonalities and mismatches between the supply and demand side of the industry.
Hong Kong has a very different culture to Australia and so what works there is
unlikely to work in Hong Kong without considerable adaptation but the basic
premises behind the study are readily applicable here. The benchmarking tool has
been used as the basis to “drive” the toolkit developed to assist contractors to
improve their performance. Details of the benchmarking and safety toolkit can be
viewed at http://www.steverowlinson.com/safetytoolkit.
53
Figure 4.1 Industry Norm of Benchmarking Safety Performance
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
Human Resource Management
Specific Project Objectives
Organisational Management
Implementation and Procedures
Maximum
Average
Table 4.1 Classifications of Contractors’ Safety Performance (N=53)
Hong Kong Contractors
Good ( 80%) Poor ( 60%)
HRM 0 39
SOP 2 43
OM 1 38
IP 7 25
Total 1 (2%) 39 (74%)
Japanese Contractors
Good ( 80%) Poor ( 60%)
HRM 9 11
SOP 6 14
OM 12 8
IP 9 11
Total 10 (50%) 7 (35%)
54
Table 4.2 Benchmarking Survey Data – Summary
(Please refer to Appendix VIII for the detailed data)
HRM SPO OM IP Survey Period: 23/7/07 - 13/8/07
1 24 13.5 21 23 Total Responses: 53
2 24 19.5 21 29 No. of HKCA Members: 320
3 28.5 36 35 43 Respond Rate: 16%
4 24 27 31 33
5 22.5 13.5 21 28
6 19.5 10.5 13 17
7 24 27 32 41 Legend:
8 10.5 7.5 14 24 HRM = Human Resource Management
9 18 9 19 29 SPO = Specific Project Objectives
10 28.5 16.5 30 34 OM = Organisational Management
11 18 10.5 21 30 IP = Implementation and Procedures
12 18 6 17 25
13 25.5 18 26 40
14 21 13.5 18 19
15 22.5 16.5 22 28
16 22.5 15 21 33
17 6 1.5 9 2
18 25.5 16.5 29 33
19 27 22.5 20 36
20 13.5 10.5 19 28
21 22.5 13.5 22 35
55
22 21 9 10 21
23 22.5 13.5 21 31
24 22.5 21 25 30 online = 24 responses
25 25.5 25.5 23.0 39.0
26 13.5 7.5 14.0 19.0
27 27.0 25.5 26.0 40.0
28 24.0 24.0 23.0 32.0
29 22.5 15.0 21.0 23.0
30 28.5 18.0 25.0 32.0
31 16.5 12.0 15.0 30.0
32 15.0 21.0 18.0 25.0
33 21.0 13.5 18.0 24.0
34 22.5 13.5 21.0 30.0
35 27.0 19.5 27.0 36.0
36 18.0 7.5 8.0 18.0
37 21.0 28.5 30.0 37.0
38 16.5 15.0 14.0 17.0
39 18.0 10.5 13.0 17.0
40 25.5 19.5 22.0 30.0
41 18.0 24.0 28.0 29.0
42 31.5 34.5 32.0 42.0
43 22.5 21.0 16.0 29.0
44 28.5 9.0 18.0 26.0
45 24.0 13.5 21.0 22.0
46 30.0 18.0 27.0 33.0
56
47 24.0 18.0 26.0 32.0
48 24.0 31.5 30.0 41.0
49 24.0 31.5 32.0 41.0
50 15.0 10.5 12.0 24.0
51 28.5 33.0 25.0 43.0
52 19.5 12.0 20.0 32.0
53 12.0 9.0 15.0 8.0 fax + post = 29 responses
Average 22.5 19.5 21.4 30.6
N.B. the scores in each column are the normalized score for each dimension; normalization enables an equal sided diamond to be for ease of
presentation.
57
Table 4.3 Statistic Analysis of Survey Data
Statistics CII-HK Safety Survey
HRM SPO OM IP
Valid 53 53 53 53 Survey Period: 23/7/07 - 13/8/07 N
Missing 0 0 0 0 Total Responses: 53 (24 online + 29 fax/post)
Mean 21.792 17.151 21.453 29.113 No. of HKCA Members: 320
Median 22.500 15.000 21.000 30.000 Respond Rate: 16%
Mode 22.5(a) 13.5 21.0 30.0
Std. Deviation 5.2426 7.9400 6.4437 8.6528 Legend:
Range 25.5 34.5 27.0 41.0 HRM = Human Resource Management
25 18.000 10.500 17.500 24.000 SPO = Specific Project Objectives
50 22.500 15.000 21.000 30.000 OM = Organisational Management
Percentiles
75 25.500 21.750 26.000 34.500 IP = Implementation and Procedures
Note: Please refer to the next two pages for graphical presentation of the results.
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Figure 4.2 Range of Human Resource Management (HRM) Scores