During the investigation of several notable disasters (e.g., 1986 Chernobyl nuclear re-lease, Continental Express Flight 2574 crash in 1991), the lack of positive corporate safety culture was identified as a major contributing factor to these incidents (IAEA, 1986, as cited in Cox & Flin, 1998; NTSB/AAR-92/04 1992, p. 54, as cited by Meshkati, 1997). For example, as pointed out by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), "the failure of Continental Express management to establish a corporate culture which encouraged and enforced adherence to approved maintenance and quality assurance procedures" was a potential cause of the crash (NTSB/AAR-92/04 1992, p. 54, as cited by Meshkati, 1997). Since then, safety culture assessment has been frequently used to identify root causes of system failures or incidents (Cox & Flin, 1998; Gordon, Flin, Mearns, et al., 1996; Pidgeon, 1998; Wilpert, 2000). Accordingly, building a positive corporate safety culture has been an interest in nu-clear energy, offshore and other high-risk industries to improve safety awareness and prevent incidents (Cox & Cheyne, 2000; Fleming, 1999; INSAG, 1999). Construction is well known as a high-risk field. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2011), in 2009, construction accounted for 18.3% of all fatal work injuries in the U.S. The industry’s fatality rate (9.9 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) was the third highest among all industries. The emphasis on building a positive safety culture has proven to enhance contractors’ safety awareness and performance. For example, the 1-Hour for Safety Management program, providing safety education for top management, successfully increased safety awareness, interest and commitment (Hakkinen, 1995). Job-site incidents were also reduced after a cultural intervention program was launched in the Netherlands’ concrete industry (Oh & Sol, 2008). Corporate safety culture has gradually become a primary safety performance indicator (Mohamed, 2003; Reiman & Pietikeinen, 2010). This research’s objective was two-fold: 1) study a safety program launched by a regional general contractor (GC), Messer Construction Co. (here-after called "the GC"), in the U.S. building construction industry; and 2) examine the program’s effectiveness in building a positive safety culture based on a holistic assessment framework. This article presents an example of best safety management practices and offers an assessment tool that can be used to evaluate safety culture and safety program effectiveness.
|Publication status||Published - 1 May 2013|