It is regularly reported that the construction industry has one of the highest levels of
incidents of work-related injury in the UK. Research to date involving the management
of health and safety in construction has concentrated on safety and in particular fatalities
of construction workers. Yet the manual handling of heavy loads leading to occupational
health problems is widespread in the industry.
The aim of this research was to better understand the continued use of manual handling
for the installation of concrete highway kerbs in the construction industry. The initial
objectives were to review alternatives to and research on kerb handling; compare kerb
handling methods; investigate the design process; and finally produce information for
the supply chain. Due to time constraints on the project and the nature of the
investigation an exploratory interpretive investigation was used to provide a flexible
approach. A literature review led to research questions on training, risk of injury,
designing for safety, organisation of the work and culture which narrowed the scope of
the enquiry. The research used qualitative methods with observation of the work and a
survey of key members of the supply chain through interviews and focus groups which
provided rich data for analysis.
The observation work, including postural analysis, has added to existing research mainly
from other industries confirming the risk of injury of the manual handling operation and
the reduced risks through using alternatives. The survey collected a considerable
amount of rich data from the supply chain members. This recorded their perceptions of
the culture of other members and the change occurring with the introduction of new
innovative technology. Results from the data analysis have been used to produce
guidance material, including a process model, to support the industry with the
management of highway kerb installation.
Further research is required, collaborating with members of the supply chain, to validate
the process model with practical applications. Data of the supply chain members
perceptions can also be used for further examination of communication failings between
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.