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Oh&S in Small and Medium-Size Enterprises and the Issue of Cultural Diversity: Ongoing Research in the Construction Industry

Abstract : This paper reports on the findings from stage one of a collaborative New Zealand and French research project on the construction industry and in particular the link between occupational health and safety (OHS), subcontracting and cultural diversity. The construction sector in France, New Zealand and elsewhere has not only one of the highest injury, illness and fatality rates but the sector also has a prevalence of small subcontracting firms and a substantial migrant labour force (CNAM, 2008; Department of Labour, 2009). The practice of outsourcing in this industry has created a complex web of sub-contracting with an international dimension and resultant confusion over regulatory responsibilities for the health and safety of workers. Thus, those in the industry are grappling with challenges of managing a culturally diverse workforce within a hazardous working environment. Hiring poorly paid migrant labours in the construction industry, however, is not a recent phenomenon in either France or New Zealand. This in turn has created a melting pot where diversity can be both an advantage and a weaknesses in terms of safety. One the on hand the enormous variability of demographic and social status (Jounin, 2009) and cultures (a term which here encompass personal, collective and professional elements) can lead to dissonance on construction site and yet on the other hand diversity can stimulate innovative ways of implementing safety measures more effectively (Mearns and Yule, 2009). Given that the international subcontracting process and migrant labour are central to the construction industry, the aim of this qualitative research is to identify and explain the sources of OHS failure and suggest adjustments that need to be made.
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https://hal-mines-paristech.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00737082
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  • HAL Id : hal-00737082, version 1

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Christophe Martin, Melchior Pelleterat de Borde, Franck Guarnieri, Felicity Lamm. Oh&S in Small and Medium-Size Enterprises and the Issue of Cultural Diversity: Ongoing Research in the Construction Industry. 14th Labour Employment and Law conference, Nov 2010, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. 7 p. ⟨hal-00737082⟩

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