Factors affecting underreporting of construction safety incidents on capital projects

Date

2015-05

Authors

Al-Aubaidy, Nadia Abdulrehman

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Abstract

At the national policy level, accurate reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses can help the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develop statistical interferences, determine required standards and improve its performance. Moreover, at the employer level accurate recordkeeping allows safety managers to identify unsafe work environments and work practices, monitor worker health and wellbeing, and eliminate risky situations. Evidence from previous research, media, and worker testimony has shown that workplace injuries and illnesses are being significantly underreported on capital projects. Despite widespread acceptance of the importance of accurate recordkeeping and significant research having been conducted with the intention of improving the safety performance of capital projects, the study of the underreporting of construction safety incidents remains limited. The main purpose of this research is to study the underreporting problems by investigating the reporting practices of real-world databases, identifying the factors causing underreporting of construction safety incidents, assessing the relative impact of factors causing underreporting of construction safety incidents, and demonstrating the incidence of those factors. An exploratory case study that provided with data obtained from databases tracking construction safety incidents within an owner organization are used as a point of departure. The data source triangulation method and expert interviews are utilized to gather categorical data and information for this relatively novel topic. Two surveys are deployed to collect data through Qualtrics Survey Tools. This research provides evidence about the presence of underreporting problems within construction organizations. It reveals the key causes that contribute to the underreporting and groups them into topic areas. A total of 53 factors that have an influence on underreporting are identified and their relative importance is assessed. This research also presents evidence that demonstrates that the occurrence of factors affecting underreporting is more frequent on projects where the project safety team was doubtful about the accuracy of reporting. This research helps to provide insight about the importance of those factors and allows management to mitigate their negative influence on reporting construction safety incidents. Also, it brings management attention to the difference between good and bad projects, in regards to recording incidents, and to use this knowledge to improve recordkeeping of illnesses and injuries.

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