Health, safety & welfare: excuses used to argue, fuss & to get away with doing little or nothing?

Rodney McDermott, Alan Stong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


AbstractThe film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly referred to different kinds of people in this world. Eli Wallach, who played the role of Tuco Ramirez, said “in this world, there are two kinds of people”. Tuco used this analogy for a number of scenarios throughout the film and gave examples that depicted roles within his circle of colleagues. Tuco himself played the role of a bandit and was the “Ugly” within the title. Within Health, Safety and Welfare, there are many ugly sides. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some people, whether by nature, nurture or life experience can and do use illegitimate excuses related to health, safety and welfare to deliberately reduce production. This research was the result of a small scale study completed on 12 highly-trained crews carrying out work associated with electricity overhead networks. The study showed that variables such as deviations from compliance with Job Site Safety Plans (JSSPs) and production in terms of work completed in a given time are straightforward to measure. A deviation is regarded as not complying with the JSSP. The JSSP involves 3 checklists that include a site specific risk assessment, plant and equipment, and a permit to dig. Part of the study involved interviewing each crew whilst health, safety and welfare audits were being carried out.Within the study, it was found that there was a wide range of reasons for deviations. The reasons can be categorised into three groups with 1) Perceived Legitimate Reasons; 2) Perceived Ambiguous Reasons; and 3) Perceived Illegitimate Reasons. The study also shows that there was a correlation between deviations and production, with the crew having the greater number of deviations achieving up to 25.1% higher production than the average production rates. The study also showed that the crews which gave the highest level of both Ambiguous Reasons and Illegitimate Reasons had the lowest overall production rates.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherEEI Publishing
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-1-909854-01-7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 9 Sept 2015
EventBenefitting Workers and Society through Inherently Safe(r) Construction - Ulster University Jordanstown
Duration: 9 Sept 2015 → …


ConferenceBenefitting Workers and Society through Inherently Safe(r) Construction
Period9/09/15 → …


  • Keywords: controls
  • excuses
  • health
  • safety
  • welfare
  • behaviour
  • risk.


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