Improving Construction Health and Safety in Developing Countries (Ghana)

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2018

87 Pages, Grade: 70.0











1.1 Context (Overview of H&S performance in Ghana)
1.2 Problem statement
1.3 Aim of study
1.4 Objectives
1.5 Research questions
1.6 Scope of study
1.7 Methodology
1.8 Significance of study
1.9 Impact of Study
1.10 Limitation of study
1.11 Organization of chapters
1.12 Research timeline

2.1 Defining health & safety
2.2 The need for H&S practices in the construction industry
2.3 Legislative governing H&S in the construction industry
2.3.1 Factors influencing poor construction H&S in developed and developing countries
2.3.2 Disparity of construction H&S challenges between developed and developing countries
2.3.3 Comparing H&S performance between developed and developing countries
2.4 Overview of H&S performance in the UK construction Industry
2.4.1 H&S legislation in the UK construction industry
2.4.2 The Health and Safety Executive as a regulating body
2.4.3 Roles/duties of HSE in the UK construction industry
2.5 The Construction Design Management (CDM 2015)
2.5.1 Health & Safety roles/duties of the client
2.5.2 Commercial client
2.5.3 Duties of the commercial client
2.5.4 Domestic client
2.5.5 A contractor
2.5.6 Duties of the contractor
2.6 Overview of H&S performance in Australian construction industry
2.6.1 H&S legislation in the Australian construction industry
2.7 Occupational Health & Safety Act, Code of Practice and Regulators
2.7.1 Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004
2.7.2 Code of Practice: Victorian compliance code
2.7.3 Regulator: WorkSafe Victoria
2.8 Occupational Health & Safety Regulation 2017
2.8.1 H&S role of client (employer) and contractor
2.8.2 Section 21: Duties of the client (employer)
2.8.3 Section 22: Duties of the contractor
2.9 Summary

3.1 Overview of the Ghanaian construction industry.
3.2 Existing H&S legislation in the Ghanaian construction industry
3.3 H&S Challenges in the Ghanaian construction industry
3.4 Summary

4.1 The Research Approach
4.2 The Research Strategy
4.3 Limitations of Approach

5.1 Results of the study
5.2 Discussion
5.2.1 Health & Safety Regulation - Part 1
5.2.2 Health & Safety Regulator - Part 2
5.2.3 Role of duty holders -Part 3
5.3 The challenges of implementing Health & Safety

CHAPTER 6: Conclusion & Recommendations
6.1 Conclusion
6.2 Recommendations
6.3 Contribution to the field of knowledge
6.4 Future research



This dissertation is dedicated to my father, without whose caring support, would not have been possible and also to the Ghanaian construction industry.


“All our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.”

- Walt Disney

This dissertation would have not been possible without the contribution, advice and support from a group of people. My thanks are due in three quarters;

To the almighty God for the good health and wellbeing that was necessary to complete this research project.

To my supervisor Dr. Dominic Ahiaga-Dabgui for his aid, his tact, his energy, frank liberality, valuable guidance and encouragement extended to me. Having thus acknowledged those who had a direct contribution to my project, I also place on record, my sense of gratitude to Rose Aboagye, Eunice Fosu and Dr. Ivy Abu for providing me with all the necessary resources.

Finally, to my family and loved ones, for their immense support and motivation throughout my academic life.


The practice of Health and Safety continues to be a major challenge plaguing the construction industries of most developing countries. In Ghana, approximately 60 out of the total 900 occupational accidents recorded by the labour Department over the last decade has been fatal and consequently attributed to a poor Health and Safety practice observed on most construction sites.

The aim of the study was to critically investigate the constraints and barriers faced in implementing an effective health and safety practice within the Ghanaian construction industry and also provide suitable recommendations on improving the practice.

The research was purely based on a qualitative study conducted through the use of secondary data gathered from extensive literature review. The study specifically explored the standard and approved health and safety legislative frameworks adopted in most developed countries especially in the UK and Australian construction industry. The findings from the study significantly attributed the absence of a health and safety legislative framework guiding the construction industry as one of the intrinsic barriers that hinders the implementation of an effective health and safety practice in the Ghanaian construction industry. Based on the analysis conducted, recommendations were provided in the form of a proposed and developed H&S legislative framework which entails a construction H&S regulation, an established authority etc. to guide the practice of health and safety within the Ghanaian construction industry.

Keywords: Construction H&S, H&S challenges, Ghana, developing countries.


Figure 1: showing the research timeline

Figure 2: showing timeline of H&S legislation in the UK construction industry

Figure 3: showing H&S legislative structure in the UK

Figure 4: showing H&S duties of both commercial and domestic clients

Figure 5: showing health & safety duties of a contractor

Figure 6: showing respective regulators for all states & territories

Figure 7: H&S legislative structure in the Victorian construction industry

Figure 8: showing health & safety duties of the client (employer)

Figure 9: showing health & safety duties of the contractor (employer)

Figure 10: summary of literature review

Figure 11: showing existing H&S legislative structure in the Ghanaian industry

Figure 12: showing H&S challenges of contractor and workforce

Figure 13: showing poor H&S practice in the Ghanaian construction industry

Figure 14: showing the summary of research strategy diagram

Figure 15: showing a typical construction health and safety legislative structure

Figure 16: showing H&S duty holders

Figure 17: showing H&S legislative matrix

Figure 18: showing a typical source of H&S challenges in the Ghanaian context

Figure 19: showing H&S legislation impact

Figure 20: showing a summary of the recommended H&S legislative framework


Table 1: showing occupational accidents by regions

Table 2: showing fatal and major injuries

Table 3: showing preliminary fatalities by industry of workplace


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

CHAPTER 1: Introduction

According to Australian’s Work Health & Safety Act (2011), the concept of construction health & safety requires an individual conducting a business or undertaking an activity within a construction field to see to the welfare of its workers and also ensure that there is a maximum protection against health and safety risks whilst undertaking the construction works. Consequently, the construction industry over the years has been notably labelled as one of the most exposed and rigorous sectors pertaining to occupational accidents all around the world especially in developing countries according to the research findings conducted by Jil et al(2010). Despite all the efforts put in place on improving health and safety performances in most advanced countries, statistics from the Health & safety Executive in UK (2015), suggest that the construction industry accounts for more than 10,000 fatalities annually and further equates to 30% - 40% of the world’s work-related fatal injuries. As a result, the industry seems to fall below the pecking order in comparison with other sectors on the industrial scale taking into account that statistics on both injury and fatality rate continues to increase substantially day after day.

According to Hamalainen et al (2006), fatality rate within the construction industry of these developing economies is likely to increase tremendously with the pace of industrialisation due to the fact that policy makers and other construction authorities pay very little attention to its development. It can further be acknowledged that the supposedly existing legal and institutional frameworks governing construction health & safety in these developing countries do have little impact on its operations therefore contribute immensely to its failure. As revealed by Clarke (2005), the enforcement of construction H&S regulations will continue to be a daunting task due to a deficiency on resources available to authorities and government institutions responsible for construction H&S administration. In support of this revelation, cotton et al (2005), went on to assert that the lack of inadequate resources available to these authorities and enforcement agencies is a contributing factor to poor construction H&S in most developing countries. On that note, one can clearly state that between both developed and developing countries, the availability and adequacy of invaluable resources seemed to affect the performance of construction health & safety operations negatively or positively.

Another research conducted by Dainty et al (2004), specifically highlights on the scarcity of skilled labour and lack of qualified staff as an intrinsic factor that compounds to the poor construction H&S practice in developing countries. In light of that, the issue of constantly employing the services of casual labour has become predominant within the industry. Apparently, these types of workers according to Mitullah et al (2003) usually do not undergo the appropriate training, education and relevant skill in practicing and dealing with health & safety issues on most construction sites. On that note, construction industries in developing countries become unsafe due to some of the above-mentioned factors.

In Ghana, the construction industry is said to account for the highest rate of occupational fatalities in comparison with its other industrial sectors. According to the statistics and survey conducted by the Labour department (2012), out of 1,120 construction accidents recorded in the industry in the year 2008, 56 accidents were fatal thereby having a converted fatality rate of 77.6 per 100,000 workers. Furthermore, bringing these records in the context of the European Union (EU) construction accident statistics clearly reveals that there are possibly 1.5 fatalities per 1000 accidents. (European commission ,2002).The shocking revelations of these figures in developing countries seems to be alarming considering the fact that most non-fatal construction accidents are sometimes overlooked and unreported thereby making it difficult to track accurate records. From the perspective of Vredenburgh et al (2002), the implementation of construction H&S practice can only be successful in developing countries when all stakeholders are wary of its repercussions as well change of attitude towards it.Unfortunately, it is evident that these efforts, ideologies and concepts might not be truly enough in dealing with the occurrence of poor construction H&S practices within the industry.


Overview of construction H&S performance in the Ghanaian construction industry

Ghana is regarded as one of the few developing countries that are currently enjoying a steady growth in its construction industry. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual report (2009), its construction industry has consistently being ranked as the third largest growing economic sector surpassing the manufacturing industry over the past decade with a tremendous GDP growth of (5.8%-7.3%).In support of that, Ghana statistical service (2013) also revealed that construction activities had grew from (10.55% - 12.6%) in the year 2012 and 2013 respectively. As a result, it is evident that these records clearly depict the country’s improved economic development potentials as well as future prospects and performances that are yet to be exploited. On the other hand, in spite of the intrinsic role played by the construction industry and its immense contribution to the country’s economic growth, the entire industry is plagued with poor construction health and safety management issues and practices.


The genesis of poor construction health and safety practice within the Ghanaian construction industry subsequently stems from the basic factors such as the outmost nature of the job, economic conditions of labour, training and education, attitude and behaviour towards the job, design conditions and lack of awareness towards the practice of an effective health & safety management as revealed by the Ministry of Employment & Labour Relations (2016). An article written by Ayitey J (2017) convincingly suggested that Ghana’s construction industry was substantively underdeveloped and as a result, institutional inefficiencies have become a common phenomenon in the country citing on the incidents of youth drowning along the Sofoline-interchange project site in Kumasi and the collapse of buildings due to unexpected modes of failure taking the lives of several in Accra, its capital city. As stated by the president of CIOB (2016), “it is essential for the government to critically consider the establishment and constitution of a regulatory body to ensure the adherence to construction health & safety provisions during the execution of contracts”. The research findings of Ahadzie, D. (2009) suggested that, the construction industry in Ghana lacked a well-prepared and systematic framework (CIDA) with an experimental legitimacy which will go a long way in driving decision making in the practice of health & safety. Consequently, this point seems to contribute as a factor to poor H&S practice in Ghana but on the other hand, it is still debatable whether regulations and policies can be regarded as the main source of the problem of H&S whilst in effect, it rather seems to be a small part of the complex puzzle.

Other reports clearly place the issue of construction health & safety on the proliferation of casual labour that do not have the required skills and training in practicing H&S in the construction field. In addition, this theory was supplementary supported by the research of Adei et al (2007) analysing the concern of casual labour claiming that these individuals put their lives at risk just to earn a living and by so doing, contractors take maximum advantage of their weaknesses by exposing them to all kinds of hazards on site without taking their safety into consideration. From a different angle, Laryea (2010) conducted a study that also revealed that almost 90% of constructions sites visited in Ghana do not implement construction H&S policies and regulations during the course of executing its construction activities.

As a result, there was a need to further investigate these inhibiting factors that are affecting the implementation of construction health & safety within the Ghanaian construction industry as whole.


This paper therefore intends to critically investigate the constraints faced in implementing construction H&S practices in Ghana. Furthermore, this would be done by exploring the current H&S policy and legislative frameworks in UK and Australia to identify possible lessons that can be adopted in the context of the Ghanaian construction industry.

Furthermore, the study will identify and investigate the constraints, barriers and challenges associated with the implementation of health & safety practices within the Ghanaian construction industry and finally provide recommendations that can be adopted to improve the performance of construction health & safety within the Ghanaian construction industry. A specific number of objectives were set in other to accomplish this aim:


- Assessing and analysing literature of developed legislative frameworks with regards to health & safety practices from the UK, (CDM), and Australia (OHS) in other to identify applicable standards and best practices that can be adopted within the context of the Ghanaian construction industry.
- By identifying the factors and challenges faced by the Ghanaian construction industry stakeholders and workers with regards to the practicing of construction health & safety.

In order to meet the above objectives, an extensive array of literature reviews were carried out and analysed critically in order to introduce a foundation of an effective construction health & safety practice that is applicable to the Ghanaian construction industry.


The research intends to address the following;

- What are the challenges and barriers faced with the implementation of an effective health & safety practice within the Ghanaian construction industry?
- What are the measures that can be put in place to improve the practice of construction health & safety in the Ghanaian construction industry?


Consequently, the issue of construction health & safety can be tackled distinctively on a global scale whiles results concerning its improvement can equally be observed and studied from countries that practice it effectively. The scope of the study will primarily be based on the approved standards, legislative frameworks and policies adopted in the UK and Australia in which applicable construction health & safety standards can be recommended within the Ghanaian construction industry.


The research adopted a range of suitable methods and approaches in other to achieve the stated objectives, hence the ultimate research tool which was being utilized for the collection of data was qualitative considering the fact that there is an on-going study based on construction health & safety frameworks, policies and strategies adopted in the UK and Australia at the preliminary phase. Secondly, data from case studies on construction health & safety from the Ghanaian construction industry can be successfully retrieved using the grounded theory approach from the Ghana statistical health service and as result it will eventually help in developing a theoretical framework capturing the major issues pertinent to the Ghanaian industry.


The main purpose of the study will go a long way in addressing the issue of poor construction Health & safety performance and practice in the construction industry as well as the likelihood of improving upon several areas or sectors in Ghana.

- Health sector: A reduction of both fatality and mortality rate caused by unhealthy and unsafe construction practices within the Ghanaian industry.
- Educational sector: To create an awareness concerning the effective practice of health and safety in the field of construction within the academic environment.
- Government & administrative sector: To help with the development and restructuring of an effective Occupational Health and safety(OHS) policy which will see to monitoring and controlling of health & safety practices especially within the Ghanaian construction industry.
- Construction sector: Identifying measures that will help in improving health & safety practices within the Ghanaian construction industry.


The study outcome in the long run will help inform construction stakeholders and authorities with regards to the factors that hinders the implementation of health & safety within the Ghanaian construction industry. In effect, the study will go a long way in highlighting on the challenges and constraints of construction H&S hence provide suitable measures in dealing with the identified challenges. This study therefore leaves room for more and further investigation within the field.


Accordingly, the targeted area of the research work will be limited to the sector of both medium scale and large scale building construction organizations where poor health & safety practice is predominant.

In addition, this research work is not devoid of other limitations. Unfortunately, the essence of time has been seen as a limiting factor with respect to the use of other methodologies and approach in collecting enough data to enrich the quality of research. On the same note, the research work is being carried out within a limited time frame which might have an impact on the end product and results.


The dissertation will be structured around three intrinsic studies which will be undertaken to address the aim of the research together with its superseding objectives. The studies have been organized into various chapters in a systematic sequence;

- Chapter One: constitutes a general introduction into the study together with its background context. Furthermore, it clearly documents about the problem statement which forms part of the intrinsic elements of the research as well as highlighting on the research goals which comprise the aim, objectives and research questions.
- Chapter Two: provides the study with an in-depth literature review on the issue of construction health & safety on the global scale by reviewing legislation and policies governing the practice in developed countries especially in the UK and Australian construction industry where the role/duty of the client (employer) and contractor with regards to health & safety will be examined.
- Chapter Three: further concentrates on the (OHS) legislation and policies in the Ghanaian construction industry. In addition, reviewing legislative governing construction H&S internationally at chapter two will be invaluable to the study considering the fact that regulations and laws surrounding health & safety usually depends on international conventions and accords.
- Chapter Four: Research methodology
- Chapter Five: as an intrinsic part of the study provides a comprehensive analysis of data gathered and also discusses results and findings from the literature review.
- Chapter Six: Conclusions and recommendations


Fig.1 showing research timeline

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Author

CHAPTER 2: Construction Health & Safety

This chapter presents an in-depth review of literature and other research works on the factors inhibiting the implementation of construction health & safety practices in developing countries. The review further explores existing literature on construction health and safety regulations and legislative frameworks adopted on the global scale especially in the UK and Australian construction industry. In addition, elaborations on the existing and identified legislations from both countries will critically examine the roles and duties of the major players responsible for implementing an effective H&S practices within the construction industry.


Before delving into the issue of construction health and safety, basic definitions on health and safety are required so as to have a clear understanding of the nature of the construction industry, its working conditions and safety organisations in other to develop an efficient framework or tool to tackle the issue of poor H&S practices within the construction industry.


World Health Organization (WHO, 2011) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not necessarily the absence of disease or infirmity. The key concepts that are captured in the above definition clearly place more emphasis on the human body and mind, hence applying this concept at the workplace will see to the protection of the bodies and minds of workers against illness resulting from the processes and materials used at a workplace environment.


Safety in general terms can be defined as the protection of people from mental and physical injury. The fine line between health and safety is inexplicit in the sense that both words are normally used simultaneously to indicate a concern for the mental and physical wellbeing of an individual.


Health and Safety Executive (HSE, 2003) defines welfare as the provision of the necessary facilities to maintain and support the well-being of individuals at a workplace.


Accident can be defined as an unexpected or unplanned event that has resulted in an injury or ill health of an individual, loss or damage to a property, materials or environment (HSE, 2003). Hence, the research will adopt the use of the following definitions.


According to Sorensen et al. (2007), construction plays an important role as part of the major industries around the world which employs over eight million personnel, representing about 7% of the total labour workforce. However, construction activities and works carried out within the industry seems to be more hazardous than any other sector as evidently supported by the research of Aksorn et al. (2008) revealing that works associated with construction result in a large number of accidents and injuries. Majority of accidents associated with construction works include; falling of workers, objects and equipment from heights specifically during roof works, using scaffolds and ladders as well as the collapse of structures on site causing severe injuries and fatalities (Helander, 1991).

Approximately 200 workers plunge to their death at construction sites while a million sustain severe injuries each and every year according to the International labour Organization report (2010). In support of that, Hinze et al. (2003) further attributed the incidence of the injuries and mortality rate to fact that most construction workers are being exposed to at least 200,000 hours of construction activities which evidently seems to be an intrinsic contribution. However, one can also go a long way to argue that most of the injuries and deaths that occur might not necessarily relate directly to the theory considering a scenario where a newly recruit and inexperience worker can equally fall into his /her demise while on duty for the first time without being exposed to a certain number of hours of work on site. Furthermore, analysis conducted by Myers (2007), claims only 2% of the accidents that occur are usually not preventable due to their nature of occurrence on site. In addition, supports the analyses by elaborating on the fact that majority of these accidents are predominantly caused by certain conditions and acts on site which is totally unsafe and needs to be prevented.

From the perspective of Abudayyeh et al. (2006), construction health and safety practices must be a major area of concern to each and every one at the workplace as the occurrence of injuries and compensations, disruption of work schedules and other financial implications associated with cost mostly affect profit that can be accumulated in the long run. Moreover, it is therefore mandatory for all construction enterprises as suggested by Lin and Mills (2001) to provide a safe, secure and a good working environment for contractors, subcontractors and employees.


There are several ways in which health and safety within the construction industry are being monitored and controlled in other to reduce the number of accident occurrences leading to an increment in both fatality and injury rates of workers within the industry. As indicated by the International Labour Organization (2015), “there is an on-going commitment maintained by governments worldwide in establishing a safe working environment free from hazards and injuries within the construction industry”. It went on to elaborate further by stating that the reflection of such commitment can only be established through a performance based workplace H&S legislation that outlines comprehensive performance objectives. The key concept derived evidently suggests a system that clearly assigns responsibilities which will encourage self-regulation within the construction industry as far as H&S is concerned.

Majority of advanced countries around the world have adopted a law in regards to health and safety that protects its population from personal hazards by ensuring that contractors and employees involved all kinds of construction activities such as installations, equipment and tools usage etc. have a safety level that is generally accepted and correspond to the practice (Ng et al., 2005). The practice of health and safety in construction in most countries are regulated by the following authorities;

- Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK.
- Safe Work Australia (Work safe-Victoria) in Australia.
- Governmental Agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) in the United States.
- Labour Inspection Service (state organization) in Finland.
- As indicated by Tam (2004), it is the overall responsibility of the ministry of construction to ensure and enforce health and safety regulations in China.etc.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHS, 2007),it is the responsibility of an employer to initiate and maintain H&S programs for his/her employee’s safe work conditions.Furthermore,it clearly states that, such programs will require a regular and frequent inspections of construction sites,equipments and materials by the designated authority. The findings of Ng et al. (2005) discovered that countries such as UK, Australia, and Singapore etc. have the self-regulatory approach with regards to H&S whereby employers including contractors are mandated in developing, implementing and maintaining H&S management systems.

As previously stated, emphasis will be on construction health and safety legislations and practices adopted specifically in the UK and Australia’s construction industry.


Most developing countries are notable for poor health and safety practices. Consequently, despite several efforts put in place on improving the practice over the years, there seems to be a major issue about health and safety that still proliferates in developing countries especially within the construction industry (Samuel, al. 2012).As a result, these countries seem to barely recognize the practice of health and safety within the construction industry as a key contributing factor to its national development.

According to Jill et al. (2010), poor management and performance of H&S within the construction industry constitutes to more than 100,000 fatalities each and every year approximately equating to 30% - 40% of the world’s work related fatal injuries sustained. Despite the fact that the government and other construction authorities in developing countries diligently do acknowledge that the industry’s undesirable accident records needs an improvement,Chileshe & Dzisi(2012) suggest the adoption of zero accident policy as an effective way of handling such improvement. From a different perspective, Larcher, P. & Sohail, M. (1999) claim one factor that seems to be overlooked involves the failure in keeping up-to-date records on construction injuries and accidents. This is particularly palpable in most developing countries where only a few statistics exist with regards to the nature of injuries and accidents within the industry.

The findings of Kheni et al. (2006) clearly suggested that, the construction industries in developing countries are predominantly dominated by SME contractors who directly operate mainly in the domestic markets apparently confirming the studies conducted by Weil (2001) as to how these contractors pay very little attention to construction health and safety issues resulting in a significant number of accidents and health problems in the industry. Hence, several authors seem to ignore or highlight on the impact the major players within the industry could have on influencing a poor construction H&S practices.

Furthermore, problems relating to poor construction H&S performance in developing countries are increasingly being related to the activities of contractors and other industry stakeholders. As revealed by Gibb, A. et al. (2006), not only do contractors in developing countries focus less on the issue construction H&S but also in reality suggested that they are equally constrained with resources which usually do have a negative impact on health and safety management. On the contrary, Weil, D. (2001) argued from an administrative perspective that health and safety administrators have limited time for site inspections in developing countries due to lack of devoted inspectors.

The case of construction health and safety practice seems to be different in developed countries. According to Coulter, S. (2009), in as much as there happens to be an intricate and well-defined system of regulations which are designed to enforce companies in providing health and safety practices at workplaces, local employers seem to ignore the practice at certain times unless they are being scrutinized by their federal agencies. His research further revealed that poor H&S practices in developed countries were also attributed to the climatic conditions (hot and cold environments) as well as several political factors especially in countries that base their administrative foundations on an Islamic canon.


Excerpt out of 87 pages


Improving Construction Health and Safety in Developing Countries (Ghana)
Deakin University  (Education)
Master of Construction Management Professional
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Health&safety, H&S legislation, Improving health&safety, Uk, Australia, Frameworks, Stakeholders, Construction industry, H&S duties
Quote paper
Michael Fosu (Author), 2018, Improving Construction Health and Safety in Developing Countries (Ghana), Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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