17 June 2013

Research measures client-driven work health and safety improvements

A three-year project will explore the influence of industry client organisations in driving work health and safety (WHS) improvements on major construction projects.

The Australian Research Council funded research project is supported and partly funded by Metro Trains Melbourne, The Port of Melbourne Corporation and the Victorian Government Department of Business and Innovation – all prominent clients of the Victorian construction industry.

Despite the widespread acknowledgement of the potential for clients to influence WHS outcomes in the construction industry, neither the quality nor the effectiveness of client leadership in WHS has been evaluated in the Australian construction context.

The research provides greater understanding of what clients of the Australian construction industry are currently doing to improve WHS in the projects they procure and which client activities are the most effective drivers of project WHS performance.

During the research period, health and safety data will be collected over the life cycle of 30 construction projects. Clients’ WHS activities will be observed and WHS performance will be measured using a suite of leading and lagging safety performance indicators. The safety climate perceptions of contractors and subcontractors working at participating sites will also be measured.

The research will identify which client WHS practices are associated with positive safety climates and good WHS performance.

The research results will assist the development of an evidence-based protocol for client WHS leadership in the Australian construction industry.

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