Supply Chain Integration

Supply chain integration of WHS projects.

Members of the Centre for Construction Work Health and Safety Research have completed a study on work health and safety (WHS) risk perceptions of construction project stakeholders.

Project dates: June 2012 –January 2015


Following on from the aims of the broader research project (incorporating phases 1 and 2), the second phase of the project aimed to explore the similarities and differences in construction stakeholders’ WHS risk perceptions.


The research adopted an innovative image-based tool for data collection. Participants were asked to sort a set of photographs based on the extent to which they presented a WHS risk. The photographs depicted different commonly used construction methods for the four building elements: i) facade; ii) roof; iii) building structure; and iv) building services. The research used façade systems and roof systems as examples to demonstrate the data collection and analytical procedures.


The research found neither absolute within-group homogeneity nor absolute between-group differences in stakeholder groups’ WHS risk perceptions. Participants from the same stakeholder group may perceive WHS risk differently, while participants from different stakeholder groups may share similar WHS risk perceptions. The results imply that risk perception is not entirely shaped by the education, training and norms associated with a particular profession, but influenced by a complex interplay of technical, psychological and social-cultural factors.

The research provides evidence to endorse the use of a multidisciplinary approach to WHS risk management in the construction project environment. Using a technical approach alone to WHS risk analysis does not adequately reflect the complexity of perceptions and judgements made by project participants. The research results also have implications for the practical application of Construction Hazard Prevention through Design (CHPtD). It is possible that a design solution perceived to be safe by one participant group may be perceived to be associated with a high chance of injury by another participant group. Therefore, it is recommended that all relevant project participants’ risk concerns be communicated and considered in the design stage in order to achieve equitable and satisfactory WHS risk-control outcomes.

Key people

Dr Rita ZhangProfessor Helen LingardProfessor Nick Blismas and Professor Ron Wakefield


This project, funded by US National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, was conducted in collaboration with Virginia Tech (US). 


Zhang, P., Lingard, H., Blismas, N., Wakefield, R. and Kleiner, B. 2015, ‘Work-health and safety-risk perception of construction industry stakeholders using photograph-based Q methodology’, in Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, vol. 141, no. 5, pp. 1–13.

A framework to develop ‘model construction clients’ in Australian Government agencies.

Grants and funding: Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner

The objective of this project was to identify the key client management actions, for Australian Government construction clients, that can be implemented in order to improve the work health and safety performance of government construction projects. A process model was developed that represents key phases in the lifecycle of a typical constructed product. For each main phase, key client management actions (for Australian Government agencies) were identified, based on a comprehensive review of Australian and international literature. These key client management actions were specified from the planning to the post-construction review stage of a project. A series of booklets to support the implementation of the Model Client process within government agencies were also developed.


The report and booklets provide a framework for Australian Government agencies to integrate WHS into their project procurement processes. The framework provides a project lifecycle approach, ensuring active client involvement in each phase of a project. The Model Client framework also had a significant international impact and was cited in the US National Institute for Occupational. Safety and Health’s National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) for the Construction Industry in 2009.

Key people

Lingard, Cooke, Blismas and Jellie.

The influence of clients in driving improvement through construction procurement and project management practices.

Grants and funding: The Australian Research Council (Linkage Project), The Port of Melbourne Corporation, Major Projects Victoria and Metro Trains Melbourne.

The project will:

  • measure the impact that the construction industry’s clients can exert over the workplace health and safety (WHS) performance of projects
  • identify client actions that have a positive impact upon WHS
  • help embed WHS management practices in the procurement of major infrastructure construction projects.

Expected outcomes

The research will:

  • reveal the points of influence that construction clients have over WHS performance in construction projects they procure
  • provide a robust evidence-base for client engagement in construction WHS
  • produce clear guidelines with supporting evidence of impact for construction client organisations.

Download the Client OHS Leadership information sheet (PDF 91 KB)

Key people

Lingard, Blismas and Wakefield.

The aim of this research was to identify best work health and safety (WHS) practices (undertaken by clients, designers or constructors) in the construction industry.

Grants and funding: CRC – Construction Innovation

The research informed the development of Australian guidelines for WHS best practice in the construction industry. The project involved interviews with industry leaders as well as managers and employees of client, design and construction organisations. The project was broken into three phases, the first of which involved interviewing key industry stakeholders and representatives of peak industry bodies. Phases two and three involved collecting information about organisational WHS practices and project-specific data relating to WHS performance.


Guide to Best Practice for Safer Construction (“The Guide“), specifying WHS ’best practice’ for clients, designers and constructors, was written and endorsed by relevant peak industry and professional bodies in the Australian context and launched in Canberra in September 2007. The Guide has attracted considerable international attention having been downloaded 1625 times by people from 59 different countries (as at 26 July 2012). The impact of The Guide was acknowledged in the award of a National Engineering Excellence Award by Engineers Australia in 2010.

Download Guide to Best Practice for Safer Construction.

Key people

Lingard, Wakefield, Blismas and Jellie.

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