chapter  1
18 Pages

Introduction

Accident prevention and control in construction is a persistent global challenge, with construction having one of the worst industrial safety records of all areas, including high-risk industries such as the chemical, mining, electrical and transportation (Hu et al. 2011). In the US, for example, the construction industry accounts for 19 per cent of all occupational fatalities and remains the highest source of fatal occupational accidents (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010). In the UK, the construction fatality rate constitutes 21.5 per cent of total occupational fatalities (Health and Safety Executive 2010b), while reportable non-fatal injuries averaged 16 per 1,000 workers, significantly higher than the overall average of 10 per 1,000 workers (Labour Force Survey 2009). In Australia, the construction industry’s accident rate of 22 per 1,000 workers is much higher than the national rate for all industries of 14 per 1,000 workers. Its fatality rate of 5.9 per 100,000 workers in 2009-10 is almost three times the rate for all industries, which is 1.9 per 100,000 workers (Safe Work Australia 2011). Safe Work Australia has estimated the economic cost of workplace injury and illness to the Australian economy for the 2005-6 financial year to be $57.5 billion, 5.9 per cent of GDP. The construction industry alone represented 21.6 per cent of this cost, 1.24 per cent of GDP (Safe Work Australia 2010). Compensation costs for all injuries in the construction industry amount to 0.5 per cent of the Australian construction industry’s turnover, increasing building costs by up to 8.5 per cent (McKenzie and Loosemore 1997; ASCC 2009).