What elements are required to achieve sustainable business change using health and safety as a lens?

Verling, Aran and Tilley, Michelle (2016) What elements are required to achieve sustainable business change using health and safety as a lens? DProf thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Business change continues to be an ongoing challenge. New consultancy models are required to suit the changing financial landscape, which requires businesses to outperform their competitors in order to survive; minimising overheads and removing waste in processes. Whilst business change is a broad topic area, the use of health and safety as a lens through which change can be made is less widely-discussed. This model for change has been utilised successfully in this business with great success. This D Prof project analyses that change programme to establish which elements of it can be applicable to other businesses undertaking change in a first-generation family business, but is applicable to any business.
The starting point for the business was to facilitate a cultural shift by approaching the change through a behavioural programme that made safety personal to each employee. It focused on behavioural safety as the lens for change within the business over two iterations/interventions. This D Prof Project is the third iteration.
The co-researchers have been immersed in the transformation programme, as insider researchers with the defined objectives of lowering the Accident Frequency Rate (AFR), preventing a fatality, increasing turnover and profitability as well as getting the business fit for rail and nuclear projects.
The business has a proven ‘balanced’ safety culture, with much work having been done on Systems, People, and Culture to therefore establishing balance in all areas. The researchers had undertaken Iteration One and Iteration Two of the transformation change programme over a period of five years using health and safety as the focal lens for change, the work represented here in the D Prof project is Iteration Three, providing a new and fresh perspective.We found that to make improvement to safety culture it is essential to already have a ‘balanced safety culture’.
Our project work uncovered key issues relating to the cultural differences between different nationalities when working together in close proximity and in a polymorphic society such as London, where our company is based.
National identities possess varied power distance and uncertainty avoidance types and when people from diverse cultural mixes are concentrated in small areas such as construction projects there is an impact upon how they work together, how they are able to assimilate information, how they best receive instruction and how they communicate with their peers and managers. We found that the works of Hofstede and Choudray are particularly relevant to improving the way in which construction projects and construction businesses further improve their safety culture and performance once a balanced safety culture has been achieved.
Sampling 900 individuals across our business identified 47% as foreign nationals whereas suddenly when you review the London region there is a larger percentage which is around 60% migrant workers or foreign nationals. This indicates that the project findings are relevant to a number of businesses who operate not only in London but in polymorphic environments.
We are now reviewing the nationalities and culture of our projects to access the underlying key cultural differences within a polymorphic London environment and concentrating of the Power Distance (PDI) and Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) of the various work crews and the supervisor nationality to gain a shared understanding of risk and further improve communication and safety performance.
Given the complexity of the issues Hofstede’s work on nationality is not a panacea but it is an area of consideration when undertaking high risk construction based projects this has been overlooked particularly in the UK and the South East with a polymorphic London workforce inside the M25. We had to consider ‘Power Distance’ PDI and its relationship to safety performance.
The indicators in relation to nationality have led the business to start looking at how we change our methodology and risk assessment into visual method statements and visual risk assessments. Work commenced in the business outside of the Doctorate and we are starting to get varied nationalities to create these visual method statements so it is not only being created from an Irish/English paradigm.
The project provides the opportunity for other stakeholders, clients and the wider construction industry to use the model for delivering change within their businesses where they may not have access to the significant resources required to make business change on a large scale. Understanding the elements which are critical to such change upfront will enable efficient and effective targeting of their valuable and scarce resources.
The project was carried out in its entirety and completed while both parties were employed within the business. Since completing the project both parties have moved on to other carrier opportunities and the change has been sustained in their absence.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 20855
Depositing User: Users 5077 not found.
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2016 12:24
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 22:18
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/20855

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