Managing production pressures through dangerous informality: a case study

Oswald, David and Sherratt, Fred and Smith, Simon (2019) Managing production pressures through dangerous informality: a case study. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 26 (11). pp. 2581-2596. ISSN 1943-7862

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Purpose: It is well-known that significant production pressures exist on many construction projects and previous studies have suggested that this pressure is a contributory factor in safety incidents on sites. While research has established that production pressures do exist on sites, less is understood about the construction practices that occur when projects are under such pressures in practice and their repercussion for safety. Design/methodology/approach: Through an ethnographic approach on a large construction project in the UK, these practices were explored and unpacked. The lead researcher was a member of the Health and Safety department for three years, and adopted a participant observer role to collect a variety of data. Findings: It was found that informal, covert and dangerous ‘piecework’ strategies were adopted at the site level in direct response to scheduling demands. Construction workers were incentivised through extra finance and rest periods to finish the work quickly; which in turn prioritised production over safety. Unreasonable production pressures remain an unresolved problem in the construction industry, and are, perhaps consequentially, being informally managed on-site. Originality/value: This study contributes important research knowledge to help understand the complexities involved in unresolved production versus safety demands, which marks a step towards addressing this substantial challenge that is deeply ingrained within the industry.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: This material may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the American Society of Civil Engineers. This material may be found at
Keywords: Scheduling, Case study, Construction safety, Production pressures
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic User
Depositing User: Symplectic User
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2019 12:22
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:54

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