Behaviour Change and Worker Engagement in Construction
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has the
day-to-day responsibility to protect people against risks to health
and safety arising out of work activities.
The UK construction industry is one of the UK's most important
economic sectors, with over 250,000 organisations, 99% of which are
small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It is also one of
the most dangerous sectors to work in. The industry is
therefore continually seeking to find innovative ways in which it
can reduce ill health and accidents by engaging with its
workforce and promoting sustainable behaviour change
to ensure that health and safety is taken seriously on site.
Owing to HSL's reputation and expertise in the area of behaviour
change and worker engagement (BCWE), we were commissioned to look
at the application of BCWE amongst some Principle Contractors
within construction, including Bovis Lend Lease, Carillion, Kier,
Mace and Laing O'Rourke. Understanding how these larger
companies utilise BCWE would help to identify how SMEs could be
encouraged to do so in a way that meets their business needs.
What We Did
HSL qualitatively investigated BCWE practices within this group
of companies all of whom invest heavily in BCWE (e.g. training
supervisors in worker engagement skills, observation and
feedback techniques, implementing rewards/penalty systems for
safe/unsafe acts, etc.). The contemporary scientific evidence
was also reviewed to establish best practice in BCWE. By
identifying the best practice undertaken by the largest contractors
in the industry, HSL developed a framework for a toolkit suitable
for the smaller contractors within construction. This
framework was further refined following completion of subsequent
research into the salient characteristics of construction SMEs that
such a toolkit needs to accommodate. The resulting toolkit is due
to be trialled by a number of construction SMEs and the evaluation
will be published by HSL at a later date.
The project has generated significant interest within the
construction industry and has lead to a number of practical
- Recommendations to help raise the profile of health and
wellbeing in the industry as the research identified that current
behaviour change programmes tend to focus on safety.
- Developing a "rule of thumb" safety culture/climate maturity
assessment tool for use by SMEs in the construction industry.
- The development of a comprehensive toolkit for SMEs with a
range of resources necessary for permitting sustainable behaviour
change. This includes: motivating management, providing
assessment measures, integrating BCWE practices with the health and
safety management system, advice on leadership skills, strategies
for motivating the workforce, advice on how to instigate and
sustain actual change over time. For each component a range
of strategies, easy to use/adapt tools, techniques, information
sheets and/or video footage recommendations were produced, the
intention being that SMEs select those that best suit their
business and workforce needs.
Downloadable pdf of case study
"The work carried out by HSL has examined the practice of Behavioural Change and Worker Engagement by leading employers in the construction industry, and begun to develop new tools for transferring this practice to small and medium sized businesses, as well as articulating a valuable new emphasis on "people centered" health and safety management in construction."
Gordon Crick, HM Inspector of Health and Safety
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