RR660: Behaviour change and worker engagement practices within the construction sector

Behaviour change and worker engagement (BCWE) practices were qualitatively investigated in an opportunistic sample of principle UK construction contractors and consultants. These were compared with the contemporary scientific evidence for BCWE. Practices demonstrated an overall shift towards to an integrated approach to behaviour change, tackling the physical, social work environment and individual determinants of risk taking behaviour. Where safety culture is least mature, emphasis is upon installing effective safety management systems, before targeting safety leadership and culture and finally operatives' behaviour on more mature projects. By tackling root causes of accidents in this way, programs should be able to overcome a tendency that traditional behavioural safety programs have in being too symptomatic.

Strategies for managing the workforce transience that characterizes the industry included managing BCWE project by project, 'influencing the influencer' and including sub-contractors in BCWE training. The prescriptive nature of observation, feedback and goal setting techniques was advocated as lending itself of improving performance in transient suppliers. Programs are at too early a stage to permit development of a watertight business case. Imposing an integrated BCWE framework over the industry, that applies leverage 'top-down' and 'bottom-up', could be used to widen BCWE uptake.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-23