Improving Construction Site Workers’ Safety Behaviour


Through Visual Communication:

A Case Study of Nigerian Construction Industry


By Victor N. Okorie and Geoffrey O. Nwodo

1Department of quantity surveying, University of Benin, Ugbowo campus

2Department of Geomatics, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State



Visual communication has long been recognized as one of the essential management tools to improve workplace safety. In contrast little or no research into visual communication and construction site worker safety behavior has been conducted in Nigeria. This study seeks to examine the extent Nigerian construction companies employ this simple safety management tool to improve site worker safety behavior. The descriptive survey method was used with quantitative data gathering using structured questionnaire and qualitative data gathering through semi-structured interviews. The questionnaire was structured from health and safety (H&S) literature and administered to managers, supervisors and site workers. The questionnaire survey was complimented with walk about and interviews conducted with site managers, supervisors and site workers from five purposively selected companies: one large, two medium and two small sized construction companies within the Lagos State. SPSS package version 10 was used for the data analysis. The empirical results revealed that majority of the construction companies did not provide visual safety signages on their sites. The interviews results also indicated that none of the medium and small construction companies provided safety signages on their sites. Provision of safety signages on site is a candid demonstration of management commitment towards workers’ health, safety and wellbeing (HSW). The study therefore, recommends that construction companies in respective of size should provide and maintain safety signages on site at a strategic point for easy visibility to workers.

Keywords: Construction, site worker, safety behaviour, visual communication, Nigeria


The Nigerian construction industry is one of the most vibrant sectors of her economy. According to Okorie and Emuze (2019), the Nigerian construction sector contributes 5.8% of the nation’s Gross Development Product (GDP). The industry is also the largest employer of labour both skilled and unskilled. It has the potential to contribute much more due to high demand of buildings and infrastructural facilities as a developing country. Naoum (2010) states that the construction industry globally, trains and hones skills of all types. Despite the importance of this sector to the economy development of Nigeria, the industry has been known for its high risks, accidents and fatalities (Okorie and Musonda, 2019, Okorie and Emuze, 2020).

The causes of unsafe behaviors or unsafe acts of workers on construction sites, according to researchers and scholars amongst Lingard and Rowlinson (2005); Health and Safety Executive (HSE, 2010); Okorie (2014); and Phoya (2017), are attributed to: poor leadership and lack of commitment to site workers’ H&S by the top management. The World health organization (WHO, 2010), also notes that poor H&S attitude of site supervisors, inadequate H&S training of workers, and lack of a proactive approach to H&S management contribute to unsafe behaviour of workers on site. The International Labour Organisation (ILO, 2010) on major causes of construction site accidents pointed out that failure to provide safety signages on sites could contribute to accidents and incidents. The use of visual signages on construction sites have been noted to impact positively on workers’ H&S behaviours (Okorie & Smallwood, 2012). The ILO (2010) added that picture speaks more than thousand words and create listening impressions. Hughes and Ferrett (2008) and ILO (2011) averred that ineffective site safety communication leads to misunderstanding, mistake, injuries and even fatalities on construction sites.

Research conducted by Okorie and Musonda (2018) on supervisor’s ability and competency to conduct construction site health and safety induction training in Nigeria, noted that small and medium construction enterprises commonly use written documents in conducting their training over visual safety signs such as pictures, symbols, images etc. Perhaps, this finding could be more common in developing countries where cost of procuring colourful posters, animations and cartoons are very high. Nonetheless, Phoya (2017) noted that the use of written H&S policy manuals for safety communication has some limitations, as many construction site workers are rural migrants with little or no education. Thus, the idea to communicate safety policies through images, pictures, animations, illustrations etc. was based on the premise that an informed worker is more likely to perform his / her tasks at relatively low risk. This is the myth behind the introduction of Safety-First posters in workplaces. Therefore, the study aimed at investigating the perceptions of managers, supervisions and site workers on extend the use of visual safety communication on construction site will improve workers’ safety behaviours.


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How to cite this paper: Okorie, V. N. and Nwodo, G. O. (2022). Improving Construction Site Workers’ Safety Behaviour Through Visual Communication: A Case Study of Nigerian Construction Industry; PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue XI, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/pmwj123-Nov2022-Okorie-Nwodo-improving-construction-site-workers-safety.pdf

About the Authors

Dr. Victor N. Okorie



Dr. Victor Nnannaya Okorie is a Senior Lecturer and currently serving as the Assistant Dean of Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Benin. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Construction Management from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 2014. He is an Incorporate Member of the Chartered Institute of Building (ICIOB), United Kingdom, Professional Member of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (MNIQS) and Registered Quantity Surveyor (RQS). His research interest is on construction health and safety (H&S) with focus on culture, behaviour and leadership in relation to construction health and safety performance. Dr Victor can be contacted on victor.okorie@uniben.edu, v.okorie@yahoo.com.

Geoffrey O. Nwodo



Geoffrey Ogbonna Nwodo is a researcher and a scholar who studied at the University of Nigeria where he obtained both his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Geoinformatics and Surveying. He has Sucessfully defended his Ph.D thesis in the area of Engineering Geodesy in the same University.  He had a stint briefly in the private industry after graduating as the best student in the faculty before joining the services of University of Benin as a Lecturer in 2014. He has taught several courses both at Undergraduate and post graduate level and he is currently heading the Department of Geomatics in the University of Benin. His passion for teaching and research also took him to the newly established University of Delta, Agbor in Delta State where he works as an Adjunct staff. His areas of expertise include Land Surveying, Geometric Geodesy, Geodesy, Geodynamics, Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System. He is a Member of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), Member, Nigerian Association of Geodesy (NAG), member, Nigerian Union of Planetary and Radio Sciences (NUPRS). He is a Registered Surveyor (SURCON) and also a consultant in the real estate industry. He has held several posts both within the University of Benin and beyond. He can be contacted on geoffrey.nwodo@uniben.edu.