The construction industry engages in designing, constructing and maintaining unique buildings. In Saudi Arabia, its growth in recent years has been remarkable, especially due to increased foreign investment from international companies seeking to expand their businesses. According to Saudi Arabia’s Infrastructure Report for the second quarter of 2011, Saudi’s construction industry is set to grow by 4% in 2011, and it will continue to grow at this rate for the next four years (Roberts, 2011). In particular, during the period 2011 to 2015, Saudi Arabia’s residential building construction is set to grow at a rate of 7.2% (Saudi Entrepreneurship, 2011). The Saudi construction sector is the largest and fastest growing in the Gulf region. The government is completing the establishment of six economic cities; it has invested almost SR513.8 billion during the period October 2008 to April 2009, and it is expected to spend around SR1.5 trillion over the next half decade (US-SA Business Council, 2010). However, the construction industry is also one of the most highly hazardous industries. Its unique nature, difficult work-site conditions, human behaviour, and poor safety management are the main causes of accidents (Koehn and Chih-Shing 1995, 261). Unfortunately, despite the construction evolution in Saudi Arabia, the work methods, equipment and procedures are still unsafe. As an example, in a recent incident in Riyadh in January 2011, it was reported that three workers were killed and eleven were left injured when scaffolding collapsed (Abbas, 2011). Several other highly publicised accidents at construction sites have also taken place in Saudi Arabia in recent years. Regulations do exist but many...
A study conducted by Larsson and Field (2002) demonstrated that risk exposure in terms of safety continues to be high in the construction industry. A study by Edwards and Nicholas (2002) also portrayed the construction industry as the most hazardous in Europe as well as globally. In their assessment of safety in the construction industry of Saudi Arabia, Jannadi and Assaf (2000) found that safety management is very poor, and further thatit is not tightly regulated by the government, as it should be. The findings also demonstrated the need for a safety code to be implemented in Saudi Arabia in order to enhance the monitoring and enforcement of safety requirements at construction sites. In addition, it was found that construction projects, both small and big scored low in terms of fire prevention, safety administration and in health and welfare.
According to Jannadi and Bu-Khamsin (2002: 540), the industry is extremely fragmented, which hampers efforts to uphold safety and health standards as well as other codes that are concerned with safety. Activities at construction sites are also physically dispersed over various locations. Therefore, enforcing, supervising and monitoring safety and health standards in the workplace are very challenging aspects (Cheah 2007, 81). In addition, construction is typically regarded as high risk because of the high and unacceptable injury rates that have characterized it over the years. Deaths that have resulted from accidents in the construction industry are higher in number than those reported in other industries, and injury rates are worst in the construction industry.Accidents tend to be costly in many aspects including health care, litigation, schedule disruptions and workers’ compensation (Abudayyeh 2006). Furthermore, Hinze (1992) stated that the additional costs of accidents include loss of employees’ productivity, cost of hiring new employees, cost of fixing damaged equipment and cost of replacing damaged materials.