Sometimes my job is to showcase my ignorance.
The first thing I thought when the idea came up of discussing quality control and worker safety in a single hour-long session is that the subjects are too big to fit into such a narrow container.
Turns out I'm the narrow container.
A research study that examined the relationship between safety related incidents and non-conforming work—a test of whether good quality management goes hand-in-hand with safer work—has shown what many in the industry already took to be true, that the two are strongly tied.
The study, published in the journal Safety Science last May, found a “significant association,” between the safety lapses and non-conforming work at a large Australian contractor over a 31-month period.
The findings add to a growing body of research linking these sometimes separately considered dimensions of construction, avoiding rework and avoiding injuries. Often, haste in completing work is believed to spur workers and managers to take shortcuts that add to hazards.
Carried out by a team of construction and engineering scholars at Australian and Hong Kong colleges, the authors wrote that they wanted to fill out the understanding of the quality-safety link established in, among others, a prior study in the U.S. published in 2013 in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Journal of Construction Engineering and Management.
That U.S.-based research team behind that study found a significant correlation between recordable injury rates, on one hand, and rework and the number of defects, on the other. It examined data from 32 projects in the U.S. and the authors, several based at the University of Colorado Boulder, concluded that a project with poor quality performance has a higher likelihood of injuries.
The authors of the more recent study published in Safety Science write that safety and quality overlap frequently, “especially as clients often specify safety related elements in their requirements to contractors. Thus, if contractors are to meet requirements so as to provide a quality product or service, they must also fulfill the safety requirements for a given project.”
We're planning a webinar on the interconnection and overlap of quality and safety for January 27th.