Sustainable prevention in construction health and safety (H&S): An economic approach

  • Benviolent Chigara
  • John Smallwood
Keywords: cost-effectiveness, economic aspects, health and safety.


The persistent health and safety (H&S) problem in the construction industry exerts an enormous economic burden on workers, society, and employers. With shrinking budgets, the contribution of H&S to productivity and business profits increasingly influences the decision to implement injury prevention programmes. Despite this, the economic perspective of H&S is missing in public discourse pertaining to injury prevention in developing countries. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of construction professionals in Zimbabwe with regards to the degree of importance of economic factors for preventing / reducing occupational injuries, fatalities, and disease, and the extent to which economic factors / practices are applied in H&S management to prevent / reduce occupational injuries, fatalities, and disease in the construction industry. The quantitative method was adopted for the study, which entailed the completion of a self-administered questionnaire. The data analysis entailed the computation of frequencies, and a measure of central tendency in the form of mean scores (MSs) to enable interpretation of the findings and the ranking of factors. The salient findings of the study are that financial provision, setting realistic production targets and timelines, balancing production economy and H&S objectives, integration of H&S into business plans and responsible procurement are the main economic factors / practices for enhancing sustainable prevention of H&S problems. Despite this, the results show that the economic factors are marginally applied to construction H&S management in Zimbabwe. While the findings are consistent with extant literature, they provide important insights to construction stakeholders relative to the potential source of the persistent H&S problems and the interventions that may be required to improve the H&S situation. To promote the integration of economic thinking into the H&S strategy, there is a need for more awareness and education among construction stakeholders relative to the importance of addressing H&S issues from an economic perspective. Further research is required to develop models and frameworks for assisting construction practitioners to generate the required economic data to inform decision making.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1010-2728