The construction health and safety regulation 2014 impact on construction workers well-being.
Raliile, Mohlomi Terah.
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Globally, the construction industry is considered as one of the most dangerous industries. The industry is known to be a challenging regime in which to practice adequate health and safety as work activities take place in hazardous environments with exposures to heights; changing weather conditions and different locations. More so, construction workers are always expected to cope with the changing environments and different scopes of work. The construction industry is perceived to be fragmented, unfair and unpredictable regarding the adequate protection of construction site workers, often violating their fundamental human right. Recent construction H&S legislation in South Africa has been amended in an effort to achieve optimum health and safety throughout all construction project phases. However, it would appear that the primary purpose for compliance with health and safety legislation requirements among contractors is to avoid penalties and for profit maximisation. The purpose of this study was to analyse the recent construction H&S legislation changes (Construction Regulations 2014) and their impact of on construction workers’ quality of life, wellbeing and their sustainability within the South African construction industry. An extensive review of literature on the topic was conducted from online databases, books, articles, reports and other studies. Furthermore, a quantitative study was employed and data were analysed using IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 25. Descriptive statistics was adopted for the data analysis and further interpreted using inferential statistics. The total sample size for the study was 120 participants (80 managers and 40 construction workers) where a total of 80 construction companies in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province were conveniently sampled based on proximity and familiarity. The response rate for the study was 78.3%. A total of 64 managers (as representatives of the companies) and 30 construction workers completed close-ended questionnaires. Cronbach’s Alpha reliability test was used to determine the internal consistency of the constructs that had been used to analyse compliance and impact of legislative changes on construction workers wellbeing and the internal consistency of the various scales was deemed acceptable for interpretation. Independent t-test was done to determine the statistical significance of the means between management and construction workers’ responses. There was an overall statistical significance suggesting that both management and construction workers shared the same views on the impact of H&S legislation on construction workers wellbeing; onsite facilities; the level of compliance with the construction regulations 2014 onsite, and workers wellbeing. However, the respondents did not share the same views on whether there was management commitment; availability of H&S policies onsite; workers’ involvement in H&S inspections, and also if there was sufficient knowledge of the construction H&S legislation. Furthermore, the means from both respondents suggested the need to improve in all constructs. A Spearman’s correlation was also conducted to determine any correlations and statistical significance between the constructs of the study. The findings indicated that the impact of the construction regulations 2014 on workers’ wellbeing has not yet been determined to date. However, a statistical significance between the level of compliance with the regulations suggested there was a positive impact on improving construction workers wellbeing. The findings further indicated that there is a need for more knowledge on H&S legislation among management and workers as this significantly improves workers’ wellbeing. However, a negative correlation between knowledge of H&S legislation and workers’ involvement suggested that it might not be in the best interest for the contractors to see workers gaining more knowledge. Also, management did not allow enough budget to improve workers wellbeing and did not see the need to improve onsite facilities, and this might have been influenced by the good and healthy state of workers. Furthermore, it could be that workers were not demanding better site facilities. However, it was agreed that management commitment to legislation contributed extensively towards improving workers’ quality of life and wellbeing as the main issue lies with the level of compliance which has a direct impact on implementation. Based on the findings, the paper proposes measures for contractors to engender full compliance and apply all aspects of the construction regulations; improve working conditions, consider the health and wellbeing of workers and treat health and safety as a value and not just a priority.