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Title: An empirical investigation of the current application and future development of the safety management system (SMS) in the Hong Kong construction industry
Authors: Yiu, Sze Nga
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: The Safety Management System (SMS) was introduced to eliminate the risk of injuries and fatalities, and reduce material wastage in the construction industry in the 1980s. Further, immeasurable resources have been spent on executing SMSs over the past 20 years. With reference to the international framework and standards, an SMS was introduced in Hong Kong in November 1999 to prevent accidents and control hazards. This research study aims to empirically address an unexploited issue, in that previous research studies are insufficient regarding SMS implementation, and a clear lack of understanding exists regarding this implementation and project performance. This study adopted a desktop literature review, structured interviews, the Delphi survey method and a massive empirical questionnaire survey to achieve the following research objectives (ROs), which include: identifying the key characteristics of construction projects with outstanding safety performance (RO1); identifying the perceived benefits, potential difficulties and critical success factors of implementing and maintaining an SMS (RO2); evaluating the effectiveness of the current application of SMS in the Hong Kong construction industry (RO3); examining the relationship between SMSs and safety performance in construction projects (RO4); and recommending strategies for improving site safety performance by considering the current application of SMSs in Hong Kong and their further development in Hong Kong and other countries (RO5).
Recent industry practices were reviewed to identify not only the benefits, difficulties and critical success factors of implementing SMS, but also the key project characteristics as yardsticks to reflect project safety performance. Further, structured interview and Delphi survey method were conducted to identify these factors and their levels of importance in Hong Kong, respectively. The structured interview and Delphi survey results were consistent with those from the literature review. The results showed that visible senior management's commitment, including manpower and cost allocations—as well as the safety manager's competence—were critical success factors in an SMS implementation. Additionally, safer working conditions, lower risk of harm to workers and better project management were the major benefits of SMS implementation. However, safety was less prioritised by project team members and subcontractors due to organisations' cultural differences. Tight work schedules and high worker turnover were also considered as difficulties when executing SMS in the Hong Kong construction industry. With reference to Delphi survey results, a massive empirical questionnaire survey was then conducted to quantify the implemented SMS' compliance levels in Hong Kong construction projects. Moreover, theoretical structural models were established to indicate the potential relationships between SMS implementation and the project outcomes from a safety perspective. These relationships were examined with the use of partial least square structural equation modelling and with empirical data from a survey of 334 respondents within the Hong Kong construction industry. The data analysis results suggest that the factors to motivate SMS implementation positively impacted project outcomes, but essential elements of the SMS might not positively impact project outcomes. This implies that an organisation's self-motivation is particularly important in monitoring construction projects' safety performance, including SMS implementation. As the mandatory adoption of SMS is being enforced by government authorities, some organisations might fulfil the legal requirements with minimum organisational efforts, resulting in hardly any positive impact on the safety performance among their construction sites. This study addressed its potential limitations in an SMS implementation context, and unfolded the tacit knowledge of the factors toward future development of SMSs. These indicate future developments in safety management practices and the long-term safety improvement across the construction industry.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Construction industry -- China -- Hong Kong -- Safety measures
Industrial safety -- China -- Hong Kong
Pages: xiii, 217 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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