There are many factors to consider when looking at ways to improve health and safety in the construction industry. When the Australian Constructors Association (ACA) developed their Safety Strategic Plan they identified safe design and safety culture as two key action areas.
The design process has the potential to eliminate hazards and risks before they enter the workplace. Despite this potential ACA found there were ongoing challenges in the industry which need to be addressed.
The culture of an organisation can determine the priority placed on work health and safety, and in turn, the effectiveness of its health and safety systems. It is essential that organisations are able to assess the culture which exists within their organisation and take steps to improve their safety maturity.
To find ways to improve these key action areas, ACA commissioned two reports from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).
Safe Design Report
The safe design report analysed current national and international best practice and made recommendations for implementing effective safety in design initiatives.
The report provides a thorough snap shot of current industry best practice and an analysis of the barriers to effectively implementing safety in construction design.
The analysis is complemented by case studies of current safety in design practices. It details the relationship between design and safety and has guidance on how to pursue safety in design improvements.
The ACA and its members will continue to pursue safety improvements through influencing the design process and advocating for the recommendations outlined in the report, including early contractor engagement in the design process and utilising advanced technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM).
Safety Culture Report
The safety culture report assessed the impact of culture on safety performance and produced tools for industry to measure and improve their organisation’s culture and consequently, their safety performance.
The report establishes the connection between an organisation’s culture and its safety performance and assesses the models and theories surrounding the components of a culture for safety.
As part of this report, RMIT have developed a culture maturity model and culture climate assessment survey tool to enable industry participants of any size to easily ascertain their existing organisational culture and take steps to improve their culture and safety performance.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of the assessment survey tool ACA have commissioned RMIT to conduct a validation process. This will include conducting workshops and surveys on ACA member sites to refine the tools ahead of public release in April 2015.