Risks in the organisational and social work environment

Like other work, work at a construction site can imply different organisational and social risks. These can be about stress, difficulties with communication, high cognitive load or that the persons conducting the different work get into conflict with each other.

The client has possibilities to prevent that the work organisation in the construction project affect the cooperation and the social relations between the different businesses in a negative way. If the client make wise choices, the organisational and social work environment can be better during both the planning and design phase and the construction phase.

Examples of what the client can think about during the organisation of the work, in order to facilitate cooperations and social relations, is:

  • forms of cooperation in the construction project
  • criteria for choosing partners in the tender stage
  • the number of subcontractors
  • how communication between different companies will be facilitated
  • the companies´ safety culture
  • the client´s own participation and management of the construction project.

The building work environment coordinator can clarify in the rules for the construction site that victimisation is not acceptable.

Every employer and self-employed worker need to contribute by thinking about how one behaves in relation to others and by being clear about what one needs to be able to conduct the work in a smooth and safe manner. Communication is an important part.

Work organisation during construction work

On larger construction sites, new personnel come and go and the work force constantly changes. This makes the work varied but at the same time more risky. There are demands for constant adaptation to new work situations, which can be stressful for those who carry out the work, as well as for the the supervisor or site manager. Theese challenges often increases if the management is not present on the construction site but instead lead from a distance. Then it is even more vague who is responsible for what on the construction site and it is common that the work environment tasks are not carried out.

A workforce from several different countries is very common at Swedish construction sites today. The majority of them do not speak Swedish and therefore need information and instructions for their work in another language. Communication is a key in creating a safe work environment on the construction site. Risks for health and safety can arise because of lacks in the communication, for example when persons from different countries should plan or conduct a hazardous operation together. Language confusion can also lead to extra work and thus contribute to stress and irritation.

The fact that persons from different countries have experience from different safety cultures can lead to misunderstandings, irritation and conflicts. It is therefore important that one takes language, culture and communication into account during the planning of work with staff from several countries.

Time pressure during construction work

It is very common that construction projects are conducted under time pressure. To know that a delay can lead to high fines can create a high stress among the involved companies employees. The different employers have a responsibility to make sure there are sufficient resources to balance the demands in terms of time and staff. The client also have a responsibility for the timetable of the construction project, so that it is realistic. The client should choose designers and contractors that can set aside enough time and staff in the construction project, in relation to the specified timetable.

Employers must see to that there is a balance between the demands that are set on an employee and the resources that the employer gives in order to be able to carry out the work. This applies for both the the construction workers and the persons supervising the work. That there is a clear distribution of responsibility and tasks is important for everyone.

Provisions about organisational and social work environment

Here you can read more about mental ill health, stress, threats and violence

Threats and violence in connection with construction work

Even if it is unusual, threats, violence or other provocations sometimes occur in connection with construction work. It can for example be threats or aggressive behaviour from external persons having opinions about a road work, or internal conflicts at the construction site that escalate to threats or violence. It is important to remember these risks, because both managers and employees within the construction sector can be especially vulnerable, as they often change workplaces and working tasks. They meet new people and come into new situations and work constellations more often that in many other sectors. Read more on the page about threats and violence.

Threats and violence

Construction work without management on the site

Many jobs in the construction sector implies that you work on your own without management. It is common that the employee is supervised by someone who is not situated where the work is being carried out, and that this supervisor simultaneously manages many employees in several different places. For the manager and the employee, this can entail discussions by phone about work environment risks.

Leading a team at a distance can create a pressured work situation for both parties. In some cases this means that the employee must carry out a last risk assessment themselves, to control that the measures that the employer have planned are compatible with the actual conditions. It means that the employer must be good at predicting different situations and risk assess them, as well as instruct the employees what measures to take. The employer must make sure that the employees stop their work and contact the manager if the conditions differ from what was expected. Then a new risk assessment is required and probably also new measures.

Certain work may not be carried out alone, because the risks are too great. Working alone can in itself cause the employee to feel stressed because there is no substitute.

Accessibility in the work environment

Accessibility means that the work environment should be accessible also for persons with different types of functional disabilities, for example cognitive disabilities. It is important to adapt information, tools and environments, among other things, so that as many persons as possible can work there without risk for their health or safety. At a construction site it is important that everyone can understand the information about health and safety risks and how to act in different situations. This can mean that information must be supplied verbally or in introductions where illustrations or films are used, in stead of in a document that must be read.

An accessible work environment

Last updated 2024-01-04