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Original research
Characterising near misses and injuries in the temporary agency construction workforce: qualitative study approach

Abstract

Objectives To understand and characterise the construct of ‘near misses’ from the perspective of temporary construction workers and to describe the safety and health risks associated with and contributing to near misses and injuries in temporary workers in the construction industry.

Methods Six semistructured language-sensitive (ie, English and Spanish) focus group discussions were conducted with workers (n=43) employed with temporary staffing agencies in South Florida. This convenience sample completed a demographic questionnaire prior to the focus group discussion. A general inductive approach was used to examine near misses in the construction industry and the unique safety and health concerns of temporary workers.

Results Four broad themes describing near misses, reporting practices and workplace safety hazards in the construction industry were derived from the group discussions: (1) non-standard workers in the construction industry draw a clear distinction between near misses and injury and believe their best protections from both occur at the worker level; (2) social network structure on construction worksites is an effective way to protect workers against injury and near misses; (3) safety and health priorities and policies at the organisational level differ from those at the worker level, which contributes to workplace injury; and (4) reporting of safety concerns and near misses is influenced by injury severity.

Conclusions Temporary workers in the construction industry are familiar with near misses but have limited resources to protect themselves against potential health and safety hazards. These non-standard workers addressed unique barriers to staying safe at work and identified potential improvements.

  • construction industry
  • temporary workers
  • near miss
  • injury

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