Inter- and intra-organizational safety management practice differences in the construction industry

Sooyoung Choe, Wonkyoung Seo, Youngcheol Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This work investigates safety management practice differences in the interorganizational manner between general contractors and subcontractors as well as in the intraorganizational manner between head offices and construction sites. While head offices of general contractors determine the safety performance target for a project, the actual performance is determined by how employees of general contractors and subcontractors working at construction sites manage the safety management practices together. This study presumes that there exist safety management practice gaps within an organization and between organizations, which are probably the reasons for stagnant safety performance improvement in the construction industry. Using 341 survey data items collected from general contractor and subcontractor companies’ employees working in head offices and at construction sites, chi-square tests for one safety management practice and two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests for three different safety management practices were conducted. It was found that there is no statistically significant safety management practice difference between general contractors and subcontractors. However, regarding the workplace, four safety management practices consistently showed that head offices have higher mean values than construction sites and that the differences are statistically significant. The two-way ANOVA test results also revealed statistically significant interaction effects. The results contribute to justifying the need for a more holistic and comprehensive approach when establishing a safety management strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104778
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
When comparing by workplace, all four of the safety management practices showed statistically significant mean differences. Head offices showed a higher portion of responses using multiple safety performance indicators including TRIR. They also reported higher mean values for the three remaining safety management practices. The second research hypothesis was supported by the results. Head offices establish the safety objectives (including safety performance targets) in an intraorganizational manner. However, actual safety performance is highly affected by interorganizational interactions, and stakeholders performing actual construction work at a site have a large degree of influence. This difference is probably the reason for the gap in perception regarding safety management practices, as shown in Table 14 . Environment, health, and safety (EHS) play an increasingly important role in project bidding. Therefore, this type of overestimated safety performance target, determined in an intraorganizational manner, cannot properly account for the actual safety capabilities of construction sites.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a National Research Korea grant funded by the Korean government (Ministry of Education) (NRF-2017R1D1A1B03030879).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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