A review of compliance with health and safety and safety regulations and economic performance in construction SMEs.

Andrew Arewa, Peter Farrell

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


Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) constitute over 90% of construction businesses and are vital to construction industry operation. Health and safety regulations in the UK compel all organisations, regardless of their nature or size to comply with health and safety rules. However, there is evidence that the risk of suffering an occupational accident in SMEs is higher compared to large enterprises. For every 100,000 workers in the European Union SME sector there are more than 4100 accidents involving over three days absence; while the same rate is 3088 in large firms. In terms of cost, SMEs spend more to remedy (considering costs of rectification work, fines, prosecutions and sentences) adverse health and safety incidents. Fundamentally, the high cost of human
capital and the destabilising effects of health and safety make the financial
performance of SMEs exposed to greater uncertainties and risks. Indeed SME
financial performance is often worse than for large firms. Various attempts by
previous research work to substantiate the relationship between compliance with
safety and financial performance of SMEs seems elusive. The research question is; does compliance with health and safety enhance SME financial performance? It is argued that SME commitment to health and safety spins off into many aspects of business performance and thus they simultaneously also benefit from better
profitability. The paper is based on a literature review and an appraisal of HSE
prosecutions in the period 2007 - 2011. It is a supplementary study and part of an ongoing PhD that seeks to appraise the effects of investment in health and safety in the UK construction industry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAssociation of Researchers in Construction Management
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2012
EventAnnual ARCOM Conference - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Sept 20125 Sept 2012
Conference number: 28th


ConferenceAnnual ARCOM Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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