Previous research has found that supply chain factors can negatively affect Work Health and Safety (WHS) for workers in many industries. Further, communication and decision-making in work systems has been demonstrated to be critical to the effective management of hazards and safe work design in dynamic work environments. However, there is little available evidence about how legal requirements to ‘communicate, consult and cooperate’ are practiced in supply chain operations. There is also little available evidence about how regulation strategies can influence these factors across supply chains, and hence empower decision-making and WHS capability of at-risk workers.
The objective of this research was to investigate: the motivators and barriers to improving health and safety in supply chains, including the role and influence of regulators; and the communication and decision-making pathways and practices across a construction supply chain in Queensland.
This research contributes to a much-needed evidence base regarding mechanisms influencing health and safety across supply chains and the influence of regulation interventions.
A sociotechnical risk analysis framework was used to chart the relationships, decision-making and communication points in a workplace setting involving the supply of a product and the management of an associated significant hazard (precast concrete piles) in the Queensland construction industry. Data was obtained through site observation, review of documents and semi-structured interviews with workers and managers from various levels in the supply chain.
The client influenced many requirements with potential implications for safety, including a requirement for compliance, inspections and safety in design. However, the client also imposed a compressed construction timeframe and a design that was considered less safe. Workers involved in manufacture, construction and transport of the product were exposed to significant hazards. Information about managing these was obtained from various sources, including safety alerts produced by the regulator, and client procedures.