Changing occupational health and safety practices in the manual handling of highway kerbs: cultural impediments and obstacles to innovation
2011-11-22T12:24:16Z (GMT) by
It is regularly reported that the construction industry has one of the highest levels of incidents of work-related injury in the UK. Research to date involving the management of health and safety in construction has concentrated on safety and in particular fatalities of construction workers. Yet the manual handling of heavy loads leading to occupational health problems is widespread in the industry. The aim of this research was to better understand the continued use of manual handling for the installation of concrete highway kerbs in the construction industry. The initial objectives were to review alternatives to and research on kerb handling; compare kerb handling methods; investigate the design process; and finally produce information for the supply chain. Due to time constraints on the project and the nature of the investigation an exploratory interpretive investigation was used to provide a flexible approach. A literature review led to research questions on training, risk of injury, designing for safety, organisation of the work and culture which narrowed the scope of the enquiry. The research used qualitative methods with observation of the work and a survey of key members of the supply chain through interviews and focus groups which provided rich data for analysis. The observation work, including postural analysis, has added to existing research mainly from other industries confirming the risk of injury of the manual handling operation and the reduced risks through using alternatives. The survey collected a considerable amount of rich data from the supply chain members. This recorded their perceptions of the culture of other members and the change occurring with the introduction of new innovative technology. Results from the data analysis have been used to produce guidance material, including a process model, to support the industry with the management of highway kerb installation. Further research is required, collaborating with members of the supply chain, to validate the process model with practical applications. Data of the supply chain members perceptions can also be used for further examination of communication failings between members.