Health & Safety in Construction

Health and safety capacity buildingIn many countries the construction industry provides one of the main sources of waged employment. But construction is one of the most dangerous industries in which to work. In addition to the risk of an accident, the health of construction workers is very likely to be damaged by exposure to dust, noise, vibration or chemicals, the effects of which may take many years to develop. In some parts of the world construction workers are also particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS due to over-representation of young men in the workforce and long periods spent away from home.

Hence, while securing a job in construction offers a potential route out of poverty, subsequent inability to work due to workplace injury, ill health or HIV-related infections may plunge the workers and their families back into destitution, or even threaten their very survival.


EAP’s Programme

In 2007, EAP obtained funding from the Department for International Development, through its Civil Society Challenge Fund, to support a project which aims to change this situation in one sub-Saharan country, Tanzania. The project was implemented over a period of five years. It provided intensive training in construction Health and Safety (H&S) to a core group of men and women drawn from all the major stakeholder organisations. This core group of trained people were then assisted to train others amongst their peers, co-workers and employees.

Before it closed in 2012 the project trained 52 Tanzanian men and women to become trainers in construction H&S. Among the group are representatives of all of the key organisations involved in construction and in Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) in Tanzania. The group also includes representatives from the main educational institutions responsible for training engineers, construction managers and technicians. Participation in the training programme by key staff members of these institutions has facilitated the mainstreaming of OHS training into professional and technical education, as well as into Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses.

Responsibility for implementing the project was shared between EAP and our local partner, the Institution of Engineers Tanzania (IET). Two other key institutions were also involved, the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) and the Contractors Registration Board (CRB). A small committee was formed, comprising representatives from the three organisations, to steer the project and take on some of the responsibility for planning and implementing training activities. Having CRB and OSHA behind the programme helped the process of delivering training to contractors. It also helped to ensure the sustainability of the training after the project funding ceased, as many of the Tanzanians the project trained have now become inspectors and trainers for OSHA. The training activities are also being continued through a NGO set up by the trainers. 

It is expected that what was achieved in the construction sector through this project will have positive spill-over (through OSHA) into other sectors in Tanzania and (through regional and international networks) into other countries of the region and beyond.

Usalama, Afya na Umasikini / Safety, Health & Poverty- part 1

Usalama, Afya na Umasikini / Safety, Health & Poverty- part 2

Related Publications

Promoting Construction Health and Safety through Procurement

There are at least 60,000 fatal accidents a year on construction sites around the world. Many more workers suffer from work related injuries and ill-health. The report points out that the main causes of death and injury are both well understood and entirely preventable. A number of international agencies have been working to improve health and safety in the workplace, but until now the use of procurement procedures has received very little attention. This briefing note explains how health and safety should be addressed at each stage of the procurement cycle.


Date Published: 12 December 2013
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