Safety and Health in the Construction Industry in Zambia

Thumbnail Image
Tente, Prisca
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The University of Zambia
SAFETY AND HEALTH IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY IN ZAMBIA Construction is considered as one of the most accident prone industries across the world. In Zambia, construction is labor intensive and flooded by unskilled workers who migrate within and outside the country. As Zambia modernizes its infrastructure through the construction of roads, bridges, shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, and schools among others; the incidences of on-site accidents and ill-health detrimental to the workers during the execution of these projects is likely to increase thus negatively affecting the nation. Zambia currently lacks a National Occupational Safety and Health Policy and as such the Factories Act is applied to all industries including the construction sector. Despite the use of the Factories Act and company safety and health regulations, accidents are still prevalent in the construction industry. Reported and unreported accidents can be prevented or their effects mitigated if standardized safety and health procedures are adhered to. The aim of this research is to study the status of safety and health in the construction industry in Zambia. The study also targets to identify measures to improve safety and health in the construction sector in Zambia. Interviews were conducted alongside a questionnaire survey, objectively for data collection. Three sites were used for the purpose of triangulation and verification regarding the interview and questionnaire results. Interviewees and respondents to the questionnaires were construction stakeholders who included clients, consultants, contractors and government organizations. Observations from the data collected highlighted the lack of coordinated safety and health practices in the industry which in-turn translates to a high risk factor for accidents and ill-health. The Factories Act which is used in the industry was found to be relatively adequate but lacked sufficient enforcement. The results indicated; falling from a height, being hit by falling objects and the collapse of earth as the three most predominate types of accidents. Causes of accidents were identified to result from poor attitude to safety, inadequate safety equipment, poor enforcement of safety and health regulations, lack of safety training, and inclement weather. The common ill-health elements were diarrhea, respiratory disorders and backaches resulting from handling of heavy loads, exposure to dust and chemicals, poor sanitary conditions and poor personal hygiene. Severe weather significantly contributed to unsafe working conditions as more accidents occurred and were recorded during the rainy season accompanied by ill-health due to floods and wet conditions. The common recognized effects of accidents consisted of high costs, disabilities, reduced productivity, job schedule delays and fatalities. The preventive measures identified included improved attitude to safety and health by all stakeholders, enhanced enforcement of the Factories Act, inclusion of safety and health as an item in all Bills of Quantities, provision of adequate personal protective equipment, training of project teams in Occupational Safety and Health, and the introduction of Occupational Safety and Health subject in curricula of universities and colleges for students pursuing construction related qualifications. Keywords: Accidents, Construction, Health, Safety, Zambia
Construction industry--Safety measures--Zambia , Construction industry--Accidents--Prevention. , Building sites--Safety measures.