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An investigation of national culture and its influence on workers safety climate in the nigerian construction industry



1.1 Background of study

In all countries around the world, the construction sector is at the center of social and economic development. Although the construction industry generated only 1.98 percent of the Nigerian economy’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009 (National Bureau of Statistics, 2010a), its importance and role in the development of any nation’s economy can not be overstated. When compared to other labor-intensive industries, however, the construction industry has historically had a disproportionately high number of disability injuries and fatalities in relation to its size (Hinze, 1997). The industry alone is responsible for 30% of all fatal industrial accidents in the European Union (EU), despite employing only 10% of the working population (Mckenzie et al., 1999); in the United States of America (USA), it is responsible for 22% of all fatal accidents, despite employing only 7% of the employed population (Mckenzie et al., 1999). (Che Hassan et al., 2007). According to Bomel (2001), construction accidents account for 30 percent to 40 percent of all industrial accidents in Japan, whereas they account for 50 percent in Ireland and 25 percent in the United Kingdom (UK). Because there are no credible sources of data for such accident records in poor nations, such as Nigeria, the situation is considerably worse. Though significant progress has been made in terms of worker safety on the job, the industry continues to lag behind most other industries in terms of safety (National Safety Council, 1999). Farooqui et al. affirm the renowned character of the construction business in terms of safety (2008). According to Davis and Tomasin (1996), there are several reasons why the construction industry’s accident records are inferior to those of the manufacturing business. In factories, the working environment is typically controlled, with little variation in working methods and equipment over lengthy periods of time; likewise, the labor force is typically stable. Hazards can thus be recognized and mitigated with relative ease once they have been discovered. However, the situation in the construction business is somewhat different, as the working environment and labor force are continually changing (Davis & Tomasin, 1996).

Hinze (1997) also points out that the construction industry’s health and safety is vulnerable to risks due to its fragmented nature, the uncertain and technically complex nature of construction work, the uncontrollable environment in which production occurs, employment practices, and the financial and time pressures imposed on project participants. The prototype nature of work, the low education levels of workers, and the high levels of subcontracting, according to Rowlinson and Lingard (1996), all contribute to the construction industry’s poor health and safety performance. In underdeveloped countries, the construction industry has consistently underperformed in terms of health and safety. Nigeria’s condition is abysmal since there is no functional legislation in place to address it. Even the National Building Code, which has been authorized by the National Executive Council since 2006 and is currently being enforced by a bill in the National Assembly, has yet to become legislation. The International Labour Organization (ILO) (1987) links the poor health and safety records and performance of developing-country construction projects to:

1.The high proportion of small businesses and self-employed individuals;

2.The multiplicity of construction sites and their relatively short lifespan;

3.The high rate of employee turnover;

4.the significant number of seasonal and migratory employees; and

Working in the same area are several trades and occupations.

This facts are used to focus on safety environment and culture, as well as national culture, as elements that affect health and safety performance in the construction sector.

1.2 Statement Of Problem

According to Mohamed (1999), construction site accidents result in numerous human tragedies, demotivate workers, interrupt site activities, delay project completion, and negatively impact the construction industry’s total cost, productivity, and reputation. As a result of the aforementioned issues, countries all over the world have recognized the need to improve occupational health and safety management on building sites, notably to reduce the incidence of construction-related incidents. Following that, it was discovered that risky behavior is inextricably linked to workplace accidents. Various sorts of construction site incidents, such as falls from heights, being struck by falling objects, electrocution, and so on, are frequently linked to a person’s mindset. It’s also been proven that there’s a link between workers’ safety behavior and the safety climate on the job, and that workers’ attitudes toward safety are influenced by their risk perceptions, risk management, safety rules and procedures, and cultural background (Che Hassan et al., 2007; Fogarty & Shaw, 2010; Glendon & Litherland, 2001; Ho & Zeta, 2004; Ismail et al., 2009; Mohamed, 2002; Mohd

Nigeria is now experiencing a rather high increase in construction activity. Unfortunately, there is a lack of enforcement of safety standards throughout the country, which is depressing. Some researchers suggest that the framework of existing occupational and health conditions in the Nigerian construction sector, if there are any, is severely fragmented and ineffectively implemented (Idoro, 2007). Good health and safety conditions, just like in any other industry, are essential for good and safe company practices. It is widely believed that combining health and safety measures with a comprehensive management system in the Nigerian construction sector might greatly improve cost efficiency, quality assurance, environmental sustainability, employee-employer relations, and satisfaction.Construction workers’ differing perceptions, behaviors, and actions, which have resulted in serious accidents on the job site, have been connected to their cultural backgrounds. These cultural differences have a substantial impact on the industrial safety atmosphere (Ali, 2006; Che-Hassan et al., 2007; Ismail et al., 2009), and they aid in understanding diverse approaches to accident prevention and safety management. Ngowi and Mothibi (1996) discovered that cultural differences were the primary cause of differing perspectives on safety practices on building sites in Botswana.

According to a review of the literature, there is insufficient or no research on the impact of national culture on safety and climate in the Nigerian construction sector. As a result, the focus of this research is on the traits and culture of construction people (both site operatives and management) and how they influence the workplace’s safety atmosphere. This study is entirely focused on the Nigerian construction industry’s safety atmosphere, including the safety perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of construction workers, as well as management safety measures. Its goal is to see if national culture has an impact on the safety climate of Nigerian construction workers. Finally, the study seeks to determine whether there is a substantial difference in the impact of national culture on the construction safety climate among workers and management.

1.3 Objective Of Study

The following are objectives of this study:

  1. Examine the factors that affect workers attitudes and perceptions towards safety.
  2. Investigate how contractors react to safety situations on site.
  3. Identify the traditional values of workers that influences their perceptions and attitudes towards safety on site.
  4. Investigate how culture affects workers perception and attitudes towards safety.

1.4 Research Question

The following research question guides this study:

  1. What are the factors that affect workers attitudes and perceptions towards safety?
  2. How do contractors react to safety situations on site?
  3. What are the traditional values of workers that influences their perceptions and attitudes towards safety on site?
  4. How does culture affect workers perception and attitudes towards safety?

1.5 Significance Of Study

This research will be crucial because, with regard to Nigeria, it will update Hofstede’s writings on national cultural dimensions. It will provide guidance to foreign and local contractors performing construction work in Nigeria on how to deal with safety concerns. It would also assist them in appropriately managing the cultural values of Nigerian construction workers that have an impact on site safety. It will also assist contractors in understanding the nature of the people and the area in which they are operating. This research will aid construction professionals and managers in understanding how to deal with people of various cultural values on building sites and how this affects safety. It would provide various managers at construction sites with practical ways of how to handle safety management concerns on Nigerian construction sites. As a result of the findings of this study, the Nigerian government will recognize the necessity to enact proper laws and regulations to reduce the number of accidents on Nigerian building sites. In addition, they put in place a framework to ensure that such laws and regulations are strictly enforced and followed by all parties involved.

1.6 Scope of study

This study focuses on investigating national culture and its influence on workers safety climate in the Nigerian construction industry. Also the will delve into examining the factors that affect workers attitudes and perceptions towards safety, investigating how contractors react to safety situations on site, identifying the traditional values of workers that influences their perceptions and attitudes towards safety on site, and investigating how culture affects workers perception and attitudes towards safety. The study will however be carried out on selected construction company in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

1.7 Limitation of study

Finance, inadequate materials and time constraint were the challenges the researchers encountered during the course of the study.

1.8 Definition of terms

National Culture: National culture means the same thing as culture. It is the accumulation of knowledge, experiences, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, timing, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a large group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.

Safety Climate: Safety climate is defined as the workers’ perception, attitudes, and beliefs about the attitudes of the organization’s management towards risks and safety. It is a manifestation of safety culture in the behaviour and expressed attitude of workers.


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