Comparing the safety climate of the Indonesian and Australian construction industries: Cultural and institutional relativity in safety research

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 2019, 26 (10), pp. 2206 - 2222
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to assess, compare and explain safety climate differences between the Indonesian and Australian construction industries. Design/methodology/approach: The paper reports a comparative safety climate survey of 415 construction personnel working in the Australian and Indonesia construction industries. Findings: Surprisingly, the results show that the safety climate in Indonesia and Australia are similar and that the differences in safety performance, safety climate must be interpreted within the context of wider health and safety norms, regulations, awareness, knowledge and typical work environments to make any sense. Research limitations/implications: This research contributes a missing international comparative dimension to the emerging research on construction safety climate. Indonesian studies are notably absent from this literature, despite the size of the country and the poor health and safety record of its construction industry. Similar comparisons between safety climate in other countries need to be made. Practical implications: This research allows construction managers operating across international boundaries to better understand the cultural and institutional context in which safety climate is developed. This will assist in the development of more culturally sensitive safety management strategies. Social implications: The construction industry’s poor safety record has serious implications for both individuals working in the industry, their immediate families and the communities in which they live. By improving the safety record of the industry these impacts can be reduced. Originality/value: This research reveals, for the first time, the cultural and institutional complexities of comparing safety climate across different countries. The results contribute to safety climate research by highlighting the importance of cultural and institutional relativity in making international comparisons of health and safety research.
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