Developing worker engagement maturity model for improving occupational safety and health in construction

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Research on Worker Engagement (WE) has identified the increased importance of meaningful discussion, communication, knowledge sharing, and shared decision-making regarding Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) practices within the construction industry. This paper reports on initial findings on the development of a meaningful discussion framework for improving OSH and engagement of the construction workforce. The main purpose of the framework is to rank levels of discussions amongst construction operatives and supervisors relevant to positive performance at work and enhancement of OSH. This reflects the legal and ethical requirements for management to collaborate with the construction workforce for the improvement of OSH. For effective WE in OSH to become the norm, the effectiveness of corporate OSH engagement programmes needs to be assessed using a valid and reliable tool. Also, there is a need for a practice-driven and validated Worker Engagement Maturity Model (Meaningful Discussion Framework) that not only identifies and aligns with existent organisational capabilities, as shown in the HSE Leadership and Worker Involvement research, but addresses a set of dimensions specifically targeted at the construction workers. The methods used to develop the framework discussed here involved qualitative interviews to gain accounts of episodes of worker engagement, which were categorised using Nvivo, and ranked based on feedback from expert focus groups. The 'Meaningful Discussion' Framework highlights the links that higher levels of worker and organisational maturity can have in relation to higher levels of construction OSH performance. This is based on a number of logically progressive worker maturity levels where higher levels build on the requirements of already existing levels; from discussing issues affecting individual worker to issues that affect other workers and eventually to those 'beyond the site gate' such as design processes. Final validation testing of the model will be reported at a later date.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConference Proceedings: Joint CIB W099 and TG59 International Safety, Health, and People in Construction
Subtitle of host publicationTowards better Safety, Health, Wellbeing, and Life in Construction
PublisherCentral University of Technology, Free State
ISBN (Print)978-1-920508-78-4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2017


  • worker engagement
  • occupational safety
  • construction


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