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Safety in Construction
Prof. Uma Maheswari
Department of Civil Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi
Role of Stakeholder in Construction
So, this lecture is on stakeholder’s role in construction safety. There are so many stakeholders
who come in the process of a construction project. And we are going to talk about whose role
is predominantly necessary when it comes to construction safety.
(Refer Slide Time: 00:38)
So, let us talk about the 3 key stakeholders, let me start in the order of their entry in a
construction project starting from owner, who has an idea or vision to create a project and for
whom a project is actually progressed and completed. Then next come designers, they are the
ones who translate the owner’s minds into technical format and pass it on to a contractor.
So, contactors are third key player. So, contractor is the one who actually know brings in
equipment, labour, etc. And start putting in whatever designer has given into an actual
construction. So, these are the 3 key stakeholders. If you look at the 3 key stakeholders,
whose role is predominantly very critical for construction safety? I think the motto of
construction safety is everybody is equally responsible for a safety in a construction site.
So, contractor undoubtedly, they are the one who is actually going to execute and they are the
one who is very close with the hazards. So, contractor’s role is very critical. Next come
designers. Designers are the one party who actually know puts in lot of owner’s ideas into
technical format. So, there itself they could have had lot of opportunities to create a design
which is very safe to construct.
They can think of what can be the possible hazards and they could have given alternate
solutions in design wherein the hazards can be minimized or at least eliminated or it can be
replaced with something else. In the past, owners were never involved in safety and even in a
construction project execution and owners always kept themselves away from a project
Because they thought they are not technically expert, but owners have a very, very big and
dominant role when it comes to implementing construction safety, that is what you will
understand in today’s class. So, this is a graph which shows what are the different stages in a
project starting from conceptual design, detail design, procurement, construction and till
close out and completion.
So, if you think this is the project schedule you can see here, actually now owner’s role is
from the start till the end. Designer’s role starts from maybe from conceptual design and
contractor’s role is primarily after post design process execution. I am talking about
traditional project delivery, there are other types of project delivery and this involvement of
owner, designer, contractor will always change.
If you see the ability to influence safety so from the beginning of the project itself there is lot
of ways and means in implementing safety. And once the owner or the designer fails to put it
in proper place and when it comes to contractor, he will have very little options to put things
to complete safe practices. Now this is a tripod on owner, designer, contractor relationships
and some of them are contractual, some of the relationships are not contractual.
I am not talking about that, primarily I am talking about the 3 players who are actually the
key players in implementing or in constructing a project. Now these 3 players are actually
talking about the project or thinking of solutions and means and which are to be constructed
with the help of workers. Now workers are the ones who are not involved in any policy
making or any decision making on safety.
But the decision made by owner, designer or contractor will be implemented by a worker and
all these safety and hazards whatever you call in the construction sites are primarily for the
workers. So, now this is like an ironical statement. Workers are never involved in safety or
they are not brought in forward and asked for suggestions or opinions and they are not
consulted for any safety precautions in site.
But the decisions are made by some other party and who are actually making a site hazardous
are very safe for a worker.
(Refer Slide Time: 05:04)
So, that is what is the background, you should keep in mind. Now let us start from the
different key stakeholders. So, number 1 is owner. Owner or client. So, now who is a client or
an owner, so they are the person for whom a project is actually carried out. So, the first
person whenever you say project is initiated then owner is a first party with whom the project
So, there is a research article which says 45% of sites have lot of fatality had happened
because the clients or the owners they had failed to put or support a project in terms of safety
starting from the design stage or starting from the conceptual stage. So, under a lot of articles
also show owners were very reluctant in the past to get involved in safety.
But the actual situation is owners should take a proactive role in safety and owner’s role in
construction safety started only from 1980s or so in many of the developing countries. And
owners since they are the key players from the start of the project till the completion of a
construction project. So, they have all possible ways of implementing or enforcing safety in a
So, first of all, the owner should have a clear objective on safety and when he has a clear
objective on safety that there should be no death or no major injury to happen in a
construction site and this has to be communicated in the project through lot of ways. Now we
are going to see what are all the different ways in which an owner is communicating the
safety or importance of safety in a construction project.
And the major 2 issues are he can select a designer who knows how to design a project very
safely, thinking of the hazards in execution or hazards in a construction site. The next one is
selecting a safe contractor and who can take care of their workers. So, his primary role will
be to select a safe designer and also to select a safe contractor.
(Refer Slide Time: 07:14)
Now when it comes to selection of a safe contractor, designer there is not many principles
available we will talk about designers little later. Now when it comes to selecting a safe
contractor, how can an owner select a contractor or choose a contractor and then assume that
he is very safe or he is going to execute the project safely in a site. So, there are some statistic
measures and there are some means by which it can be done.
Number 1 is the olden time or the traditional time of awarding a project to L1 is no longer
valid right now. Many owners are really keen in promoting quality, safety, performance and
so on. There are lot of new normal performance indicators available in so many projects
which are coming up recently. So, awarding a project to L1 who is primarily a low financial
bidder is no longer a valid scenario right now.
So, now what are the different data you can collect from a bidder. So, during bidding stage
itself you can evaluate or assess a contractor whether he will perform or whether he will
execute a project safely in a construction site. So, some metrics which you can collect from a
contractor or a bidder from the last 5 years of his work experience are injury incident rates or
recordable injury rates.
First aid injury cases, then loss ratio or experience modification ratio, like this there are some
statistics available and you can collect in the previous projects maybe for past 5 years are
based on your project sensitivity and seriousness on safety can accordingly get the data
required during the bidding stage itself from all the probable bidders. Then job site safety
inspections and now once contractor assesses a contract bidder.
And selects somebody as a person who can execute a project safely; his role should not stop
only just selecting a safe contractor. So, the assumption should not be selecting a safe
contractor means he will implement safety in this particular project also. So, there are other
ways of looking at the scenario. So, you can also get make the contractor get his own job site
safety inspections, project safety plans that he submitted in the previous projects or may be
accident history or records of OSHA citations and finds that he has done in the past.
Litigation related to injuries whether he has been to court trials or maybe arbitration cases in
the past due to some injuries or unexpected events which happened in the past. How has he
trained the workers or staff and what is his control on sub-contractors, how is his equipments
available and what are his maintenance policies on equipment because equipment
malfunctions also can lead to lot of injuries.
Like this there are so many statistics and measures through which an owner can select a
contractor who will be safe based on the previous experiences.
(Refer Slide Time: 10:25)
Now as I told you just because you select a contractor based on his past performance and you
assume that he will be safe it does not mean you can just keep quiet and relax in the current
project. Because there should be some means of enforcing the contractor to work safely in
this particular project also.
One broad area or the place where an owner can touch upon safety in a construction project is
contract clauses. So, what do you mean by contract clauses and what are the different ways
with which an owner can enforce safety in the ongoing project? Number 1 is address safety in
the construction contract. So, the key way is to get all the documents necessary in the bidding
For example, how many times he has to do and job site inspections or safety trials, what are
his plans for job hazard analysis. If there is an emergency or any hazard happen so what is his
plans for an execution or evacuation plans. So, like this there can be so many ways of asking
or implementing through contract clauses. Mandatory reports on accident investigations;
safety inspections or safety meetings.
And also, the owner can provide adequate training to contractor. He can also give proper
worker orientation program and also enforce the contractors to undergo the same orientation
program. There can be regular audits on contractor safety performance there should be
regular safety meetings supervisory personal also wherein the owner should also be
participating with all these programs.
So, number 1 is if an owner can completely get himself involved in a project then with the
safety caution in mind, I think safety can be really enforced in a project.
(Refer Slide Time: 12:28)
Now the next player is designer. So, now do designer have a real role in safety or can they do
something regarding construction safety, because they are ahead of construction project
progress itself. Designers do have a role in safety because they are the one who is bringing
out all the conceptual or the final structure of your model on a paper in terms of dimensions,
in terms of specifications and everything.
But, unfortunately what happens is most of the designers do not want to be involved in safety
because they say they do not have too much of information on design for safety ideas and the
other reason is they are also scared of litigation, what if I do a design and if it is really turns
out to be hazardous and there has been 1 or 2 injuries will I be liable for any litigation or any
So, that is the real fear behind these designers that they do not come forward in promoting a
safe construction idea. That is what is happening and the main myth is many of the new
design concepts are often rejected because they appear to be dangerous. For example, even
the opening and closing of a door or a window can be altered in so many ways, so that some
can be thought about for cleaning and for maintenance in future purposes.
But some options are generally rejected because they are too costly or they are little time
consuming for installation erection. So, often their ideas are getting rejected. That is the real
scenario behind and the one issue is design decisions directly influence the safety because
once a design is approved then there is nothing much you can play in a construction site,
other than bringing in a different equipment or bringing in a different type of a formwork for
execution you cannot have many options there in construction as such.
So, what do you mean by design for construction safety? So, there are alternate terms
available here and there are lot of synonymous terms available and it is not that clear as to the
start time of these terminology and why are all these terminologies available in the academia. Number 1 is PtD which is nothing but prevention through design, the other concept is DfCS
which is nothing but design for construction safety.
And also, DfS, colloquially it is also called DfS design for safety. So, these are all policies of
promoting or providing us a project which is assumed to be safe or at least the hazards are all
pre understood and accordingly a new measure or device has been put in place. So, that the
hazards are very minimal in the process. So, these are all some of the issues.
(Refer Slide Time: 15:34)
So, now let us look at some examples of DfCS and researchers say there are almost like 600
ideas or something on DfCS. But one suggestion for how to implement a design for safe idea
is you can actually have a contractor involved in a project from the beginning. So, that the
contractor will be sitting along with the designer and the hazards in the execution can be
really thought about. And when the hazards are really thought about suggestions for
eliminating or minimizing the hazard can be really worked out.
So, an alternate approach or methodology or a different system or a different material
altogether can be easily worked out. Some examples here are design 42-inch parapet wall. So,
that eliminates the need for fault protection or guard rails. Allow adequate clearance between
structure and power lines, so that overhead power lines are hazardous when you are operating
cranes. Then design underground utilities to be placed instead of trenchless technologies,
eliminate the safety hazards associated with the trenching.
So, you can go really with no dig policy. Then design window sills to be 42 inches above the
floor. So, that you can eliminate the fall protection itself, construct permanent starway in the
beginning of the construction. So, that your fall hazards in terms of ladders, temporary stash,
scaffolds, etc. can be totally eliminated. So, like this some examples are given and you can go
through the website for many more examples like this.
Now the next is regarding your one more example. So, there is an Abu Dhabi's world trade
center and here also the design was really out of the box, in the sense it was really very
different design. So, when people were also asked about the building maintenance. In the
sense the future maintenance and operation of the particular building. So many options came
in especially for cleaning of the panels and the glass panels and facades.
So, some suggestions came in. So, the slanting sloping roof of the panel itself can be worked
out for storing all the equipment. So, that it can be turned or tilted and it can be used for
cleaning and maintenance of this particular structure itself. So, this idea was very well
achieved and the person who developed this idea won the bid of the project. So, like this you
can also track so many examples available in the public forum on safe ideas for construction
and also for future maintenance.
(Refer Slide Time: 18:21)
Now the third party whom we are talking about will be on contractor’s responsibility in
construction safety. So, contractor is a person who actually looks at the execution of a whole
project and the contractor is responsible for safety in the construction site and also
responsible for preparing a safety plan and also for carrying out the plans. So, now as far as
contractor is concerned the procedure or plans of whatever the contractor does an owner is
actually responsible for making the contract or implementing many of the issues.
For example, to provide proper orientation in the trade specific training periodically, all these
contractors will be doing it, executing it, but the owner is responsible for forcing the
contractor to execute all these in his sites. Communicating lot of safety improvement
programs in the site, after investigating safety accidents injuries or you prefer for promoting
safety in the construction sites.
And, contractor also does monitor safety progress from time to time. So, all these will be
done by the contractor but under the headship of an owner. Now there are some issues with
regard to workers. Now workers as I explained in the first slide, so workers are the ones for
which the entire spectrum of safety in construction is revolving around. Now what are the
different components of workers? Now if you look at those new workers, they always pose a
threat in the construction site.
Because for new workers everything is new in the construction site for them; they do not
know where to ask for, whom to report for in case of any emergency or in case of any hazards
visible in the site. So, there may be so many, unknowns which partially will be rectified
through training and orientation but still new workers are like moving hazards in a
That is how you should treat a new worker unless he is familiarized with so many other
options. Now working with friends, so when a worker starts getting involved in a
construction site now what happens is, he starts getting mingled with the co-workers and they
become friends and this may not be they work as gangs, this may not be a good sign when
you talk about productivity.
Because lot of gossips, lot of chatting will go on, but when you think about safety no worker
will try to make his friends get hurt. So, all the hazards will be communicated appropriately
and they try to have a trust and friendship among them so that they maintain the safety in a
construction site. So, when you think of safety it is always encouraged to allow the workers
to move along as a gang or friends as a crew.
Now, the next issue is job satisfaction and loyalty to the employers. Suppose if the workers
are not paid adequately what happens is they always try to know mess up with some
equipment or they do not work properly or they do not take the training or the orientation
very seriously. So, their mind is always in terms of switching over to another job and what
happens here is these workers will not be taking care of reporting any faulty equipment or
reporting any hazards and so on.
So, whenever a worker is recruited you have to keep in mind that he should be satisfied and
he should be happy and the employer employee relationship should be maintained properly.
So, but it is very difficult to satisfy a person in a job, this applies to any job and any person.
For example, to a worker maybe provide 1-month additional salary and they will be very
happy, for some workers, maybe some coupons on daily markets or something additionally,
they feel very happy.
So, the different satisfaction levels are there for different workers. So, you have to also
investigate that and the last one is treat the workers with respect and not after all they are
doing a different job but they are also human beings with the same ego and hurt. So, when
they do a good job, you should try to appreciate them, so that they are always happy and they
start being loyal to the company and to the employer.
(Refer Slide Time: 22:52) Now what are the workers responsibilities in a construction site? Workers are really the direct
influence on any injury or accident when any accident or injury happens it is one worker or
someone who is really involved in the scene and they are the first direct cause for any
accident. So, now what are the different characteristics of the worker or how should the
workers behave in a construction site?
So, the workers have the right to be shown to safety in the sense they should always have all
access to health and safety information. And they should be working in a healthy and safety
environment which implies all the safety and health codes procedures, standards, whatever
guidelines given in the project everything should be followed with proper care. And they also
have the right to get appropriate training when before they start the work.
And during the training they should also be very attentive in the training and listening to all
the hazards and whatever is spelt out. And always work with safe machinery, vehicles, tools
and equipment and whenever there is faulty equipment they have to also report to the
supervisor and get it repaired. Now they should also be volunteering to talk about what is
happening in the construction site.
They should be encouraged to speak up. So, they can also speak about a task which is too
dangerous which they feel is difficult for them to progress and finish. They should be
speaking up and even volunteering for somebody else also. That should be primarily
promoted in the construction sites. And they should also know the health and safety
procedures in their workplace including emergency procedures.
So, those in terms of emergency they should know how to escape from the site and be safe. And also, they should be provided with clean drinking water proper toilets and so on. All
these comes as health issues which the worker should be very clear at all points of time. And
the last is the workers should have the rights to workers compensation and they should be
wearing PPE at all times in the construction sites.
(Refer Slide Time: 25:06) Now who is responsible for this worker safety? So, far we have talked about owner,
contractor, designer, it looks like all 3 of them have equal role on worker safety. But who is
really responsible for worker safety? Because the owners are the one who employed a
contractor and the contractors are the one who are employing the workers. So, it is like directto-direct relationship.
Now if you look at this case, now will the owner be responsible for a worker safety or a
contractor is responsible for a worker safety. That confusion happens many of the times and
many of the times when a worker is injured the ball is now between owner and contractor as
to who will take care of the responsibility and who will pay for the compensation to the
So, now if you look at this scenario this is primarily called concurrent liability when 2 or
more parties are employers then they should be providing a proper safe and healthy work
place to all the employees. From that particular point of view, so owner and the contractor
both are really responsible for a safety of a worker. So, if you look at here so contractors,
workers are performing the work on an owner's land.
So, indirectly owner and contractor together are responsible for safety in a construction site.
So, it will be unacceptable to say that you relied on a contractor to identify hazards but still
the owner also has to take care of all the positives steps and measures to see to that the
workers are safely working in the site. And contractors also have to see to that the workers
are given a safe place of work and they are not asked to work in an unsafe place and mess up
(Refer Slide Time: 27:01)
So, now let us move on to employer responsibilities. It applies to either owner or the
contractor, both of them are responsible as per the OSHA guidelines provide a workplace
which is free from serious hazards, comply with appropriate safety standards, make sure
employees use safety tools and equipments and they should also know how to properly
maintain the equipment.
Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn the employees of any potential hazards. Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards. Then keep
records of any injuries and illnesses and post these records and also provide access to these
records to the employee. So, that they know what are the hazards available and how many
people in the past had an injury or met with an accident in the past.
(Refer Slide Time: 27:59)
Now let us talk about government. So, is government really responsible for construction
safety? From the beginning I have been telling, so, everybody is responsible for construction
safety. Now what about the government? So, this is not with respect to public or private
project. In general, government also has a responsibility on safety. So, primarily in 2 forms,
one is they serve as legislators.
And the other one is the act as bureaucrats or caretakers. One is they serve as legislators or
politicians who pass laws. So, they can actually know enforce safety through those laws and
the caretakers are the bureaucrats who administers a law. So, the government's role should be
to require construction safety planning for both design construction in all projects.
To develop a safety information highway of injury, data, hazards and available safeguards,
they can maintain a portal on safety data. So, that it is available to everyone and people can
think about promoting safety in future projects, to use governmental fines for an unsafe
workplace to fund or to fund the safety information highway. And also, to level the playing
field so that the parties who deliberately avoid safety planning.
And the use of safeguards is not exempt from liability in the event of injury or death. So, it
will also help to punish or correct someone who has done faults routinely. And to shift the
function of preliminary and routine construction safety audits or inspections to qualified
independent safety engineers.
(Refer Slide Time: 29:41)
So, government also has a serious concern on safety. Now if you see this picture, so workers
are at the real last level and owners are in the real first level and government is little at a
higher level. Now we are not going to include government in this picture now. Now if you
look at owner, designers and contractors, so there is something with regard to safety emphasis
So far, safety is measured in terms of negative indicators which are also called lagging
indicators which implies accident. If you want to see safety in terms of positive side then
there should be some leading indicators. There are some leading indicators which are
available in safety research these days starting from safety climate, safety culture, safety
behavior and so on. Now what are these terminologies?
Most of these terminologies are little confused and interchangeably used in literature. But
there is a slight difference and there is a regular definition for each of these terms which we
are going to see in today's class. So, safety culture is always a top-down approach. So, topdown organizational chart you have right. So, that is what is a safety culture. So, safety
culture starts from the top management and it starts flowing down into the complete
Safety climate is actually the workers perception, so it starts going from the bottom up
approach or the perceptual approach. So, safety climate is actually like a byproduct of safety
culture only. So, when the accidents are injuries, they occur frequently and are not effective
indicators of safety performance there is a different sort of a safety performance called safety
behavior which is actually measured in 2 forms.
One is safety compliance and the other one is safety participation. So, safety participation is
nothing but voluntary in nature. What do you mean by safety participation is joining in
orientation program? Joining in a training program and giving your best in learning and
getting knowledge on safe procedures in construction site. So, safety participation is
primarily a self motivated or a voluntary stuff.
Safety compliance is like a mandatory stuff, wherein if there is some standard, some codes
and whether if you want to wear PPE, all these has to be done in accordance with the loss or
safety regulations or safety standards available in a particular place. So, safety compliance
talks about a particular activity of a worker or a group and who has to follow some procedure
or some behavior in a construction site. So, now if you see here safety culture is primarily top down, safety climate is bottom up.
Top-down means owner influenced organizational attributes and safety climate is primarily
from worker influence bottom-up attitude and safety performance is actually into 2 terms
compliance and participation. So, compliance is nothing but your mandatory stuff which you
have to follow or it shows a behavior of a person in a construction site.
And participation is more voluntary and it also shows how you will behave, show behaviors, later on as a result of participating in lot of programs in the sites. So, with this I am just winding up. Thank you.