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Case Description

You are required to conduct a case study on a significant workplace safety issue.

Accidents at construction sites in every country round the world result in injuries and even death of workers. These accidents result in loss of resources and financial losses. The paper would delve into one such accident which took place in Barangaroo, Australia. The accident took the life of a worker called Timothy Macpherson when an iron beam fell onto him while he was on duty at the harbour construction site. The paper would delve into different aspects of risk management in Australia like role of the construction companies and the government in management of these risks. This would be followed by a literature review which would consider two aspects the role of the stakeholders in risk management and providing risk leadership in the business organisations. The author would then analyse the accident through these two topics and then go on to recommend steps to the construction companies to reduce accidents.

Timonthy Macpherson or Tim Macpherson was a construction site worker who was killed when a large iron beam fell on him at Barangaroo Harbour site. He was 32 and was involved at the Barangaroo site near the Sydney Harbour. He was watching a crane which was lifting a heavy steel beam. The beam collided with an unsecured beam which fell onto him, killing him (smh.com.au 2018). The fatal accident had brought several disturbing facts into light.  The contruction at the ferry was being executed by the New Zealand based civil construction company McConnell Dowell (mcconnelldowell.com 2018). The Maritime Union of Australia claimed that they were refused access to the site after the accident occurred by the agents of the construction company. The union further informed the media that the barge on which the construction work was commencing did not qualify the maritime parameters (abc.net.au 2018). The incident left the workers traumatised and they were unwilling to work following the accidents. They were being given counselling to help them overcome the trauma of the fatal accidents they had witnessed (theherald.com.au 2018).  

Figure 1. Graph showing worker fatality rates in Australia

(Source: safeworkaustralia.gov.au 2018)

The graph above shows workers’ death in Australia in different sectors in Australia till 2016. It clearly shows that in the construction industry, the number of deaths in 2016 surpassed the 10 years average figure. This clearly follows the growing concern about the safety of the workers about which the Maritime Union of Australia had raised concern (theherald.com.au 2018). A probe into the matter had brought into light the fact that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) had handed a prohibition notice to the operators of the barge 10 months ahead of the accidents. Hence one can infer the commencement of construction on the barge a clear violation of the orders of AMSA. Mr Brian Parker, secretary, Construction, Forest, Mining and Energy Union, Australia mentioned that there has been increase in the deaths in the construction site in Australia (abc.net.au 2018). This comment clearly points out that the gross violation of the Safe Work Act which mandates all organisations ensure safety of their staff members. SafeWork NSW under whose rule Barangaroo comes mandates the construction companies to take safety measures and train employees about safety methods and workplace risk management (safework.nsw.gov.au 2018). The presence of a large piece of unsecured mass of steel clearly shows that the construction works in NSW do not follow the laws. The denial by McConnell Dowell to allow the representatives of Maritime Union of Australia access to the site of the accidents clearly points out lack of responsibilities of construction companies operating in Australia towards stakeholders like the government, employees and labour union. The situation clear indicates the need of urgent government intervention to improve the status of workers’ safety in the construction industry of Australia (legislation.nsw.gov.au 2018). However, the provision of counselling of workers of the construction site post-accident shows that construction companies are offering counselling to workers which is a positive change coming about in Australian construction industry.

Literature Review

The literature review section analyse two topics namely, responsibilities of stakeholders and developing of safety leadership.

Antonelli, D'Alessio and Cuomo (2017) mention that the stakeholders today have the power to impact projects and the business organisations commencing projects should take into account expectations of the stakeholders throughout the entire project. The stakeholders of the projects consist of both internal and external parties which impact the project commencement. Mok, Shen and Yang (2015) points out the mega construction projects involve more stakeholders due to their vast expanse and impact. They point out that the large construction projects first of all involve acquisition of multiple licenses and permits. Authorities like SafeWork New South Wales mandate the plants and machineries used in the construction projects to be registered with it (safework.nsw.gov.au 2018). The construction projects attract billions of dollars of financing, thus necessitating financial assistance from banks and several non-banking institutions. The investors of the public limited construction also play significant role in ensuring steady availability of funds for their operations. The government, the actual principle for the project is also a key stakeholders. Wu et al. (2016) point out to the next group of stakeholders of the expensive construction projects, the subcontractor firm actually execute the project according the project plans prepared by the main contracting firm. Heravi, Coffey and Trigunarsyah (2015) point out that complex planning, financing and execution of construction require these large number of stakeholders to collaborate to ensure appropriate execution of the project and benefit of one another. The subcontractors should ensure that the project plans made by the contractors are execution efficiently. Kamalirad, et al. (2017) point out that construction projects have immense effects on the environment owing to discharge of immense amount of wastes like sludge and concrete mixtures. These sites release immense amount of gases, chemicals and other pollutants which have detrimental effects on the environment. Yusof et al.(2016) in their work support Kamalirad et al. (2017) and mention that construction industry is the sources of most amount of pollution among all the industries. They mention that construction companies involved in the projects including contractors and sub-contractors exploit scare natural resources which have detrimental impact on the environment. Jafari et al. (2015) mention that contractors and subcontractors should not only try to reduce environmental impact but also try to ensure safety of employees involved in the construction work. This is because, according to the employees involved in the construction work are important stakeholders and it is the ethical responsibility of the contracting companies to ensure their safety. The managers should take steps to ensure safety of employees to reduce accidents and resultant loss of productivity and human resources.

Responsibility of Stakeholders

Kaskutas et al (2016) mention that contractors and sub-contractors should develop safety leadership at the construction sites to ensure safety of the labourers involved in the process of production. Mok, Shen and Yang (2015) mentions that mega construction sites involve a large number of labourers who actually carry on the construction work. These workers often have to work under harsh environmental conditions like high temperature and presence of toxic chemicals. Situations like these put immense pressure on their health and minds. Andersen et al. (2015) while referring to high risks and rate of accidents at the construction sites hold factors like the temporary nature and difficulty in predicting risks responsible. Heravi, Coffey and Trigunarsyah (2015) add to this by pointing out that complex projects require involvement of different groups of stakeholders like the principal or the body for which construction work is being carried out, the contractor, sub-contractors and their employees. This often results in conflicts between the interests of different stakeholders like the governments through laws mandate contractors to ensure safety of the labourers while the contractors and subcontractors emphasise on cutting their costs and often do not ensure employee safety. Schwatka, Hecker and Goldenhar (2016) mention that this conflicting nature of different stakeholder often culminates into lack of taking proper measures to ensure employee safety which gives way to high number of worker injuries and fatalities in the construction industry. Koivupalo et al. (2015) mention that contractors and sub-contractors should initiate safety leadership programmes at the construction sites and train the workers on safety measurements. The engineers posted onsite should ensure that the safety measures like appropriate placement of rods and beams and proper storage of chemicals are carried out. Kaskutas et al (2016) further point out that worker supervisors should establish and maintain communication among the workers. This would ensure taking of appropriate risk management strategies. It would also enable the workers take prompt action like giving first aid or evacuation a site in case of an accident like fire takes place. The government of Australia through SafeWork Act and work, health and safety acts mandate the employers in the construction industry to establish leadership in employee security to reduce accidents at sites of construction (safework.nsw.gov.au 2018). Thus, one can infer from the discussion that contractors and sub-contractors should enforce safety leadership among workers to reduce onsite accidents. It would also enable smoother commencement of construction work and ensure less extension of tenure, thus reducing costs.

Developing Safety Leadership

An analysis of the discussion above reveals gross violation of stakeholder interests on the side of the construction company McConnell Dowell which was commencing the construction in Barangaroo. The construction company was commencing the construction work on the barge even after not being approval by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. This was the first violation of law by the construction company. The engineers and the supervisors did not take sufficient measures to ensure that all the beams and bars were secured. It was this gross lack of responsibility on their side which led to the beam fall onto Tim and kill him. The agents of McConnell Dowell obstructed the representatives of Maritime Union of Australia from entering the site post-accident. This showed that the company was not cooperating with the authorities and the union in holding the investigation. The company by this entire act exhibited gross violation of the FairWork Act which necessitated government probe for further action. The following are the recommendations which can be made to the management bodies of the contractors in the light of the above discussion:

The management of the construction companies should take appropriate risk management steps to ensure minimum number of accidents. The contractors should form risk management strategies as integral parts of the construction work strategy and allocate resources towards them. They should ensure that the subcontractors either have their own safety management strategy in place or follow the safety management strategies formed by them. The risk management strategy should embrace all the individuals on and around the construction sites like labourers of the contractors, sub-contractors and even temporary staffs.

The contractors should ensure strict supervision of the risk management execution on and around the sites. The workers should be made to adhere to the safety parameters while they work. For example, they should be mandated to wear safety goggles on their eyes, chemical proof gloves on the hands and proper uniform when working with chemicals and gases. The wires hanging over the construction site, if any should be deactivated to prevent electrocution if workers accidentally touch them. The engineers should ensure that the escape ways are not blocked by heaps of rubbish and free to escape. They should also ensure that the first aid facilities are always available on site so that workers could be given the basic medical aid, if required.

The workers should be trained to take steps to avoid danger like appropriate handling of chemicals and so on. The human resource department of the construction companies should offer training to the workers on handling risks. This would enable them to take prompt actions in case of accidents. This would enable the workers to take prompt actions in case of accidents and help in minimising the damage due to those accidents. The workers as a result be able to contribute towards minimising the losses of resources and financial losses which construction companies suffer due to accidents.

Conclusion:

One can conclude from the above discussion that the management of the construction companies should take appropriate steps in minimising risks. The must realise that injury of employees are not only detrimental to the morale of employees but also to their execution of projects. They must take appropriate steps to minimise injuries of employees like offering appropriate clothing to employees dealing with chemicals. They must also train the employees to take steps in case of accidents. This would enable the employees to take steps to help each other in case of an accidents and reduce the loss if possible. Moreover, in event of an accident, the construction companies should cooperate with the stakeholders like government and the union investigating into the case. The managers should provide safety leadership and train the employees on regular basis. The top managers should monitor the safety measures and employee skill from time to time. They should also bring about required changes to avoid or at least minimise future risks. This would enable the construction companies to minimise the losses.

References:

ABC News. 2018. Union claims inspection blocked at Barangaroo site where worker died. [online] Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-02/barangaroo-death-union-claims-inspection-blocked-november/8317516 [Accessed 29 May 2018].

Andersen, L.P., Karlsen, I.L., Kines, P., Joensson, T. and Nielsen, K.J., 2015. Social identity in the construction industry: implications for safety perception and behaviour. Construction management and economics, 33(8), pp.640-652.

Antonelli, V., D'Alessio, R. and Cuomo, F., 2017. Beyond Stakeholders Theory: Financial reporting and voluntary disclosure in Italian SME according to a System dynamics point of view. Economia Aziendale Online, 7(4), pp.285-304.

Heravi, A., Coffey, V. and Trigunarsyah, B., 2015. Evaluating the level of stakeholder involvement during the project planning processes of building projects. International Journal of Project Management, 33(5), pp.985-997.

Jafari, M.J., Gharari, M., Kalantari, S., Omidi, L., Ghaffari, M. and Fardi, G.R.A., 2015. The influence of safety training on improvement in safety climate in construction sites of a firm. Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention, 2(4), pp.257-264.

Kamalirad, S., Kermanshachi, S., Shane, J. and Anderson, S., 2017. Assessment of Construction Projects’ Impact on Internal Communication of Primary Stakeholders in Complex Projects. In Proceedings for the 6th CSCE International Construction Specialty Conference.

Kaskutas, V., Buckner?Petty, S., Dale, A.M., Gaal, J. and Evanoff, B.A., 2016. Foremen's intervention to prevent falls and increase safety communication at residential construction sites. American journal of industrial medicine, 59(10), pp.823-831.

Koivupalo, M., Sulasalmi, M., Rodrigo, P. and Väyrynen, S., 2015. Health and safety management in a changing organisation: Case study global steel company. Safety science, 74, pp.128-139.

Legislation.nsw.gov.au. 2018. NSW Legislation. [online] Available at: https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/regulation/2011/674/chap1/part1.1/sec2 [Accessed 30 May 2018].

Mcconnelldowell.com. 2018. McConnell Dowell - Creative Construction. [online] Available at: https://www.mcconnelldowell.com/ [Accessed 29 May 2018].

Mok, K.Y., Shen, G.Q. and Yang, J., 2015. Stakeholder management studies in mega construction projects: A review and future directions. International Journal of Project Management, 33(2), pp.446-457.

Proudman, G. 2018. Hunter man killed at Barangaroo. [online] Newcastle Herald. Available at: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/4504383/hunter-man-killed-at-barangaroo/ [Accessed 29 May 2018].

Safe Work Australia. 2018. Fatality statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/fatalities/fatality-statistics [Accessed 29 May 2018].

SafeWork NSW. 2018. Construction work. [online] Available at: https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/health-and-safety/industry-safety/construction [Accessed 30 May 2018].

Schwatka, N.V., Hecker, S. and Goldenhar, L.M., 2016. Defining and measuring safety climate: a review of the construction industry literature. Annals of occupational hygiene, 60(5), pp.537-550.

The Sydney Morning Herald. 2018. Worker killed in Barangaroo incident named as Tim Macpherson. [online] Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/worker-killed-in-barangaroo-incident-named-as-tim-macpherson-20170302-gupirb.html [Accessed 29 May 2018].

Wu, C., Wang, F., Zou, P.X. and Fang, D., 2016. How safety leadership works among owners, contractors and subcontractors in construction projects. International Journal of Project Management, 34(5), pp.789-805.

Yusof, N.A., Abidin, N.Z., Zailani, S.H.M., Govindan, K. and Iranmanesh, M., 2016. Linking the environmental practice of construction firms and the environmental behaviour of practitioners in construction projects. Journal of Cleaner Production, 121, pp.64-71

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[Accessed 14 April 2024].

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My Assignment Help. Essay: Workplace Safety Issue At Barangaroo, Australia. [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2019 [cited 14 April 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/accidents-at-the-barangaroo-harbour.

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