THE INFLUENCE OF NATIONAL CULTURE ON WORKERS SAFETY CLIMATE IN THE NIGERIAN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

ABSTRACT
The research explored and analyzed the influence of national culture on workers safety climate in the Nigeria construction industry. It identified the attitudes and perceptions of construction workers towards safety, the national culture dimensions that influence workers attitudes and perceptions and the relationship between the national culture dimensions and construction workers safety climate. It employed survey research method where two set of similar questionnaires were structured and distributed to a total of 180 respondents which comprised 120 site operatives and 60 site management personnel. Out of the total number of questionnaire distributed only 141 were returned and utilized for analysis. Data obtained from the questionnaire survey were subjected to analysis using the following statistical tools; simple bar chart, pie charts, frequency tables and percentages. Means score Index and standard deviation were calculated and used to evaluate the effects of safety climate factors and national culture dimensions on workers attitudes and perceptions towards safety. Pearson’s Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient (r) was used to determine the relationship between national culture dimensions and safety climate, while two-tailed t-test was used to ascertain the significance of the correlation of the relationship. Again, one-way ANOVA was used to determine if there is any significant difference between the opinions of operatives and managers on the influence of national culture on workers safety climate. It was then found that workers involvement and beliefs and perceptions were among the safety climate factors that mostly affect workers attitudes and perceptions towards safety while the low mean values for management commitment and safety education and training indicates the level of management commitment to safety issues on construction sites. Five national cultural dimensions: power distance, collectivism, femininity, uncertainty avoidance and long term orientation greatly influence safety climate of construction workers. All the five culture dimensions except long term orientation have a very high positive correlation with safety climate. The correlation coefficients of the other four dimensions ranged from 0.75 to 0.99 while long term orientation dimension has correlation coefficients of 0.47 and 0.65 for operatives and managers respectively. Also the influence of all the five culture dimensions were statistically significant on workers safety climate at 5% significances level except for the long term orientation dimension which was not significant at 5% significance level. Likewise, there was no significant difference between the opinions of site operatives and site management personnel at 5% significance level, except for the power distance dimension which showed a significant difference as a result of large power distance between the operatives and management due to their job positions. In view of these, there is urgent need for the speedy passage of National Building Code Enforcement Bill so as to enforce the usage of project health and safety plan in all construction works, provision of health and safety regulations for construction work, training of site workers in basic safety practices, and putting into consideration workers cultural values and beliefs whenever any project is being embarked upon as it affects workers beliefs and perceptions and attitudes towards safety.


CHAPTER ONE 

INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Construction industry is the hub of social and economic development in all countries of the world. Though in 2009, construction industry contributed only 1.98% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the Nigeria economy (National Bureau of Statistics, 2010a); its importance and roles in the development of economy of any nation can never be disputed.

However, when compared with other labour intensive industries, construction industry has historically experienced a disproportionately high rate of disability injuries and fatalities for its size (Hinze, 1997). The industry alone produces 30% of all fatal industrial accidents across the European Union (EU), yet it employs only 10% of the working population (Mckenzie et al., 1999); in The United States of America (USA), it accounts for 22% of all fatal accidents and only 7% of the employed (Che Hassan et al., 2007). Bomel (2001) notes that in Japan, construction accidents account for 30%-40% of the overall industrial accidents, with the total being 50% in Ireland and 25% in the United Kingdom (UK). This situation is even worse in the developing countries and Nigeria in particular, because there are no reliable sources of data for such accident records.

Though, notable improvements have been achieved in terms of workers safety at site, the industry has continue to lag behind most other industries with regard to safety (National Safety Council, 1999). This notorious nature of construction industry in terms of safety is confirmed by Farooqui et al. (2008).

Davis and Tomasin (1996) observe that there are a number of reasons why accident records within the construction industry compare poorly with those of the manufacturing industry. In factories, there is normally a controlled working environment, with little change in the working procedures and equipment over long periods; additionally, the labour force usually remains fairly stable. Thus, once identified, hazards can be remedied with relative ease, and danger mitigated. However, the situation is quite different in construction industry as the working environment and labours are constantly changing (Davis & Tomasin, 1996).

Hinze (1997) also observes that health and safety in construction industry is susceptible to dangers because of its fragmented nature, the uncertain and technically complex nature of construction work, the uncontrollable environment in which production takes place, the employment practices, and the financial and time pressures imposed upon project participants. Rowlinson and Lingard (1996) added that the prototype nature of work, low education level of the workforce, and high levels of subcontracting contribute to the poor health and safety performance in the construction industry.

In developing countries, construction industry has performed far below the expectation in the areas of health and safety. The situation is quite pathetic in Nigeria because there is no existing functional legislation to that effect. Even the National Building Code which was approved by the National Executive Council since 2006, which Enforcement Bill is before the National Assembly has not been passed into law till date. Based on this, the International Labour Organization (ILO) (1987) attributes the poor health and safety records and performances in construction projects with developing countries to:

§       The high proportion of small firms and high number of self employed workers;

§       The variety and comparatively short life of construction sites;

§       The high labour turnover;

§       The large proportion of seasonal and migrant workers; and

§       Various trades and occupations working in the same area.

It is based on these facts that safety climate and culture and national culture as factors that affect health and safety performance in construction industry are bring to focus.

1.2       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
According to Mohamed (1999), accidents on construction sites, cause many human tragedies, de-motivate workers, disrupt site activities, delay project progress, and adversely affect the overall cost, productivity and reputation of the construction industry. In recognition of the problems above, countries all over the world have seen the necessity of improving occupational health and safety management on construction sites, particularly to reduce the number of accidents on construction sites.

Then, it has been established that unsafe behavior is intrinsically linked to workplace accidents. Also different types of construction site accidents such as fall from height, hitting by falling object, electrocution, etc are often associated with person’s attitude. It has also been confirmed that a positive correlation exists between workers safe behavior and safety climate within construction site environment, and that workers attitudes towards safety are influenced by their risk perceptions, risk management, safety rules and procedures and cultural background (Che Hassan et al., 2007; Fogarty & Shaw, 2010; Glendon & Litherland, 2001; Ho & Zeta, 2004; Ismail et al., 2009; Mohamed, 2002; Mohd Saidin et al., 2008; Salminen &Seppala, 2005).

Currently, Nigeria is enjoying relatively strong growth in construction activities. Unfortunately, it is disheartening that enforcement of safety regulations is not widespread within the country. Researchers in some quarters have argue that the framework of existing occupational and health conditions of Nigeria construction industry if any, is grossly fragmented and inadequately enforced (Idoro,2007, 2008). Just like in any other industry, good health and safety conditions constitute good and safe business practice. It is a general believe that integration of health and safety measures with a total management system, within the construction sector in Nigeria could contribute significantly to cost efficiency, quality assurance, environmental sustainability, better employee-employer relation and better satisfaction.

Divergent perceptions, behaviours and actions exhibited by construction workers which have led to serious accidents on site have been linked to different cultural backgrounds. These cultural differences have some significant impact on industrial safety climate (Ali, 2006; Che-Hassan et al., 2007; Ismail et al., 2009); and help understands different approaches to accident prevention and safety management. Ngowi and Mothibi (1996) found that cultural differences were the major reason for viewing safety procedures differently on construction sites in Botswana.

Literature review shows that there are inadequate or insufficient research work on the impact of national culture on safety conditions and climate in Nigeria construction industry. The gap therefore, forms the thrust of this work which focuses on the characteristics and culture of construction personnel (site operatives and management), and how they influence the safety climate of the work place.

This work is entirely concerned with the safety climate of Nigeria construction industry and more specifically, the safety perceptions, attitudes and behaviours of construction workers and management safety practices in Nigeria. It seeks to establish if national culture have any significant influence on safety climate of Nigeria construction workers. The study finally attempts to analyze and weigh if there is any significant difference in the influence of national culture on construction safety climate among workers and managers.

1.3       RESEARCH AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The primary aim of this study is to explore and analyze the influence of national culture on construction safety climate in Nigeria. In arriving at this aim, the following objectives are to be achieved:

a)                   To determine safety climate factors that affect workers perceptions and attitudes towards safety on construction site;

b)                  To determine the national culture dimensions that influence workers safety perceptions and attitudes (safety climate) on construction site;

c)                   To establish if national culture dimensions have any significant influence on construction workers’ safety climate; and

d)                  To establish if any significant difference exist in the influence of national culture on construction workers’ safety climate among operatives and managers.

1.4       SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The subject of this study is specifically on the effects of national culture dimensions on the behaviours, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, values, and commitments of Nigerian construction workers to safety (safety climate) on construction sites. It considers only three major Nigerian ethnic groups (Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba), and also construction workers of Nigerian origin. This is because in most social sciences research, these ethnic groups (the Igbo, the Hausa and the Yoruba) are often used to reflect the entire nation. Similarities on the cultures of these three ethnic groups were extracted to form the Nigeria National Culture. This study was exclusively carried out on some selected construction sites within the South East States of Nigeria and Delta State. The simple reason is that there are enough big construction sites going on in this area as at the time of the study.

However, the research was not without some peculiar challenges, among which are:

§       Unwillingness of respondents to respond to the questions in the questionnaire. This problem is more with the site management team.

§       Some sites require formal application before you can be granted access/permission to interview their workers or distribute questionnaire.

§       Low level of education among many construction workers makes it very hard for them to understand what they are required to do in the questionnaire. So it required a detailed explanation, though the questionnaire questions are simple.

§       Difficulty in recovering of questionnaires issued due to absences of some respondents at the time of researcher’s visit.

§       Low level of research and publication on the subject matter with respect to Nigeria and other African Countries.

1.5       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
According to Maslow’s theory of human needs, safety (security) ranked second to physiological needs in the hierarchy of human needs. Hence, the reason for studying influence of culture on safety climate of construction workers in Nigeria. Although, a lot has been done on this subject matter in the developed and Asian countries, not much have been done in Africa especially in Nigeria. Therefore, the result of this study will contribute immensely to the existing body of knowledge.

It will update Hofstede’s works on national culture dimensions with respect to Nigeria. It will help foreign and local contractors doing construction business in Nigeria on how to handle safety issues. It will also help them to manage properly those cultural values of Nigeria construction workers that affect safety on construction sites. It will equally help contractors to know the nature of people and environment they are working on. This study will help construction professionals and managers to know how to deal with different people with diverse cultural values on the construction sites as it affects safety. It will proffer practical approaches on how to handle safety management issues on Nigeria construction sites for various managers at construction sites.

From the result of this study, Nigerian government will see the need to put in place adequate laws and regulations that will step down the rate of accidents on Nigeria construction sites. And also put in place the mechanism that will ensure that such laws and regulations are strictly enforced and abided by those concerned.

1.6       RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research work is carried out in line with the following research questions:

a)                   What are the factors that affect workers attitudes and perceptions towards safety?

b)                  How do you react to safety situations on site?

c)                   What are the cultural values of workers that affect their attitudes and perceptions towards safety on site?

d)                  How does culture influences workers attitudes and perception towards safety?

1.7       RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
In order to give direction to this work, two hypotheses are postulated. These hypotheses assist in guiding the research towards solving the research problems. They also aid interpretation and analysis of data collected to reach valuable conclusion. The hypotheses were arranged into null hypothesis (H0) and alternative hypothesis (H1).

HYPOTHESIS ONE:
Null hypothesis (H0):
Cultural dimensions do not significantly influence the safety climate of construction workers on site.

Alternative hypothesis (H1):
Cultural dimensions do significantly influence the safety climate of construction workers on site.

HYPOTHESIS TWO:
Null hypothesis (H0):
There is no significant difference between the opinions of operatives and managers on the influence of national culture on construction workers safety climate.

Alternative hypothesis (H1):
There is significant difference between the opinions of operatives and managers on the influence of national culture on construction workers safety climate.

1.8       THESIS STRUCTURE
The thesis is logically arranged into five (5) chapters and appendices. Figure 1 provides a graphical overview of the thesis structure. The structure is then described in the following paragraphs.

Chapter one: This chapter summarizes the background of this research work. It describes the rationale (statement of the problem) for the current study, followed by the setting of the research objectives, the scope and limitation of the study, its significance and the research questions, which finally culminated into formulating research hypotheses.

Chapter two: This chapter commences with the role and importance of safety management within the construction industry. It then presents a review of the available literature, addressing the difference techniques for measuring safety performance within the industry. It further, thoroughly, reviews the concept of safety climate as an identified popular safety performance measurement tool. This chapter also provides a review of the importance of safe work behavior and its relationship to the safety climate concept, reviews the literature on national culture including different frameworks and cultural dimensions developed to measure national culture, along with its importance to the construction industry. This chapter then provides a general overview of Nigeria, initially with an introduction on the geographical position and salient features of the economy. Further, it discusses the Nigeria national culture and factors which have influenced Nigerian culture. It finally assesses the Nigerian construction industry and concludes with an overview of the prevailing safety and health conditions in Nigeria construction industry.

Chapter three: This chapter discusses in detail, the research methodology adopted for this research study. The chapter contains a detailed description of the selection and development of data collection tools, sources of data collection, population and sample selection, the method of data collection and a brief introduction to the method of data analysis.


Chapter four: This chapter presents, in detail the data analysis and results of the administrated surveys for construction workers and management and also the results of the role of national culture on workers and managers’ safety climate and finally with the summary of major findings of the study.

Chapter five: This chapter simply provides the reader with a general conclusion and recommendations. It presents its recommendation based on the research findings and finally looks into future research work avenues.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 136 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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