An investigation of the cost of construction accidents in Zambia

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Namonje, Tamara
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The University of Zambia
The construction industry contributes significantly to national economic growth and offers opportunities for job creation. However the industry has continually been plagued by workplace incidences and accidents. Despite governments and organizations maintaining an on-going commitment towards establishing a working environment free of injury and disease, a great deal of construction accidents continue to frequent projects. This study aimed at determining the costs incurred as a result of construction accidents in Zambia. A combination of a case study and survey approach was adopted. The questionnaire was distributed to contractors and employees involved in construction projects in Zambia. The data collected from the survey was analyzed through the use of SPSS version 11 and Microsoft excel. The results of the study revealed the following as some of the main costs of construction accidents; medical, burial, communication, compensation, funeral, hospitalization, lost salary, sick pay and transport. The costs of construction accidents reveal that construction accidents present a substantial cost to employers. Moreover the research study confirmed that if the firm pays all the cost components associated with a fatal accident it will incur an average of ZMW 21,880.00 while if it pays all the cost components associated with a major and minor accident it would incur an average of ZMW 8,122.36 and ZMW 3,976.92, respectively. Over half (35 out of 50) employees did not lose any money. 15 employees lost money with the loss varying between ZMW4.00 to ZMW 2,001.00 per accident/incident. The average loss of these 15 employees was approximately ZMW 399.00. Where employees lost money, the largest proportion, approximately 40%, was due to lost salary. In addition five employees lost their lives as a result of the accident and their compensation was given at an average of ZMW 10,800.00. The research therefore recommends that enough awareness is done to sensitize people on costs implications that come along with accidents and come up with ways of avoiding them. Moreover, contractors should provide appropriate health and safety information to their employees on construction job site. Furthermore, relevant law enforcing agencies should be proactive conducting regular site inspections to check on contractors‟ compliance with the existing legislations governing H&S.