This research paper aims to identify barriers faced by SMEs to improve their safety performance.

Generally the efforts to improve safety performance in the construction industry have been focused on large organisations. However, the majority of construction businesses are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Therefore, safety performance in the construction industry can only be improved further when adequate attention has been afforded to safety performance in SMEs. This paper aims to identify barriers faced by SMEs to improve their safety performance.

Questionnaire survey was used to collect data from SMEs and 50 responses were received. Analysis results confirm that SMEs in the Australian construction industry have lower safety performance than their larger counterparts. The top three barriers are clients’ focus on reducing costs, clients’ focus on completing the work as quickly as possible, and competition among SMEs. These barriers are economic-related and external, thus SMEs have little or no control over them. As a result, it is difficult for SMEs to address these barriers without the intervention of other stakeholders. The cooperation from the government and larger organisations is vital to change the norms and culture of the construction industry to facilitating safety performance improvements in SMEs.



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