Developing a Safety Climate Assessment Tool for Omani Construction Industry

Developing a Safety Climate Assessment Tool for Omani Construction Industry

Vasco Ribeiro Santos, Tiago Ferreira Vitorino, Alvaro Dias, Bruno Barbosa Sousa
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSMET.296265
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One of the methods which could improve the safety performance of construction organizations is the safety climate approach which is helpful to know the existing maturity level of the safety climate and to develop plans to achieve the required level of maturity. Most of the existing safety climate tools were developed considering different industries in developed countries while construction was based only on few tools. Construction projects in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries are at a peak. This article, therefore, attempts to develop a safety climate assessment tool for the Omani construction industry. A mixed research method consisting of systematic review (N = 32), structured questionnaire (N = 102) and email interview (N = 19) was adopted in this research. An assessment tool that has seven factors and 62 simple questions that the participants have to answer on a Likert scale of 1 to 5 is finally developed.
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1. Introduction

Statistics from several sources reveals that construction is regarded as one of the most hazardous industry. For instance, the International Labour Organization data for the year 2015 reveals that every year, more than 100,000 workers die on construction sites due to different occupational safety and health conditions. This means that the number of deaths on construction sites is roughly equal to 274 deaths per day. This number is nearly 30% of all occupational deadly injuries (ILO, 2015). The situation in the GCC countries is particularly alarming due to several reasons discussed in detailed by Umar et al., (2019) and Umar (2022). The construction projects are at a peak as the region is in the stage of developing its major infrastructures. Recently, the deaths of construction workers in the construction of a stadium for the football world cup 2022 have attracted the attention of media and international organizations. Some of these reports show the number of construction workers that died in the project has already reached 1,200. Some of the reports estimate that the number of deaths in this project will reach 4,000 by the end of 2020 when it is completed (Safety Media, 2018; ITUC, 2014; Ganji, 2016). The Human Rights Watch report indicates that the total workforce in Qatar is approximately two million, with 95% of this workforce being expatriates. A total of 800,000 expatriates (40%) are employed by the construction sector (Human Rights Watch, 2018). The report further shows that in only 2012, a total of 520 workers from India, Bangladesh, and Nepal died due to different work-related accidents and conditions in Qatar. Different reports indicate most of the construction workforce (= 90%) in these GCC countries are from Asian countries (Middle East Annual Conference, 2014; GOSI, 2018; OSC, 2016; LMRA, 2018; GRC, 2018; GRSIA, 2017; MHRE, 2018). There are several ways to improve the safety performance of construction organization and one of them is using the safety climate approach (Clarke, 2006; Oah and Moon, 2018). The main goal of this research was to develop a safety climate assessment tool for construction organizations in Oman. Since the construction workers demography in the GCC construction is somehow the same, there is a possibility that this tool can be used in other GCC countries. Different authors recognized that a mature safety climate and a rich safety culture contribute to achieve a safe workplace (Zohar, 2002; Clarke, 2006, 2010; Neal and Griffin, 2006; Wallace et al., 2006; Nielsen and Lyngby Mikkelsen, 2007; Pousette et al., 2008; Kuenzi and Schminke, 2009; Kines et al., 2011; Umar and Egbu, 2018). The literature review suggests that although there are differences between the two terms i.e., safety climate and safety culture, however these concepts for improved safety performance have attracted more concentration across a broad number of industrial businesses including construction (Flin et al., 2000). One the reason behind this suggested by Bergh et al., (2013) is that rich safety culture and a mature safety climate are considered among the most important elements in attaining a safer workplace. To enhance the level of safety culture and safety climate, it is crucial to, first gauge the existing level of safety culture and safety climate, then agree with what level of safety culture and safety climate is required, obtainable and desired, and then to make strategies to accomplish the safety culture and safety climate, which is desired (AIChE, 2012). A similar concept of safety climate approach was also explained by Umar and Wamuziri (2017) and described relevant safety climate factors or dimensions can be measured among different categories of staff working in a construction organization or in a project undertaken by the construction organization. The results will reflect the safety climate of the organization or the safety climate of the specific project. After the assessment of safety climate factors, construction organizations will be able to identify and prioritize the weak area for improvement. They further suggested that safety climate leading factors can be reviewed on a five-level scoring scale to assess what level of safety culture for that factor is achieved by construction organization. The maturity level for all the factors can be classified as a uniformed, reactive, complaint, proactive and exemplary. Construction organizations can make a short term (1-2 months), mid-term (6-12 months) and long term (1-2 years) plans if the required level for the factors is not adopted by using different ideas. The main question is what could be the safety climate factors that need to be included in a safety climate assessment tool. This was partially investigated by Umar and Egbu (2018) through a semi-structured interview held with the construction profession in the GCC region. They, however, recommended that such factors should be derived considering the view of the members in a construction team. Similarly, the literature review of the existing safety climate assessment tools reflects that most of them were developed considering the industries in some advanced countries (Zohar, 2010). Apart from that, construction was the base for only a few assessment tools. The perceptions of the safety climate could be different among different industries and regions (Barbaranelli et al., 2015). This article, therefore, aims to investigate the safety climate factors in Oman construction considering the whole team members. The outcome of this research, on one hand, provides a tool for the construction organization in Oman to assess their safety climate but also contributes to the existing knowledge of body in relation to the extent of safety climate factors that are considered significant in the Oman construction industry context. A research approach considering both quantitative and qualitative methods were adopted to achieve this. Based on the finding, a safety climate assessment tool is proposed for the Omani construction industry. The research methodology is further explained in the next section.

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