Managing the adverse health and safety impact of subcontracting: findings of a qualitative inquiry.

P. Manu, N. Ankrah, D. Proverbs, S. Suresh, E. Adukpo, S. Laryea (Editor), R. Leiringer (Editor), W. Hughes (Editor)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Despite the economic benefits of subcontracting, it is widely known to be one of the factors influencing adverse health and safety (H&S) outcomes on projects. Given the increasing complexity of construction technologies which inevitably means that specialisation in construction will grow, it is expected that there will be even more subcontracting in the future, and hence the need for measures to address the adverse H&S influence of subcontracting. In the UK, beyond the legal health and safety requirements which offer some opportunity for mitigating the H&S impact of subcontracting, there is limited insight as to how main contractors manage this adverse impact in terms of their in-house H&S practices. Using semi-structured interviews with key management personnel of 6 UK contractors, the research question, “how do main contractors manage the adverse H&S influence of subcontracting, in terms of their in-house H&S practices?” was investigated. The inquiry revealed that beyond the legal requirements, two strategic measures adopted by the investigated contractors are: restricting the layers/tiers of subcontracting on projects; and having a regular chain of subcontractors. These measures are aimed at addressing the communication, teamwork, competence, and safety culture issues that are associated with workforce fragmentation introduced by subcontracting. Given that the adverse H&S influence of subcontracting is an international phenomenon, these findings provide a learning opportunity for all construction contractors within and outside UK, particularly the large and medium contractors who often sublet work packages.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWest Africa Built Environment Research (WABER) Conference 19-21 July 2011 Accra, Ghana Proceedings of the WABER 2011 conference
    EditorsS. Laryea, R. Leiringer, W. Hughes (W Hughes)
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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