The Integration of Health and Safety (H&S), Lean and Sustainability in Construction: A Literature Review

Fidelis Emuze1 & John Smallwood2

1Senior Lecturer, Department of Built Environment, Central University of Technology, Free State Private Bag X20539, Bloemfontein, 9300, South Africa Tel: (051) 507 3648 Fax: (051) 507 3254 E-mail: [email protected]
2Professor, Department of Construction Management, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa Tel: (041) 504 2790 Fax: (041) 504 2345 E-mail: [email protected]


In most cases, the motivation for health and safety (H&S) has been legislation instead of enhanced business and project performance. The emphasis on legislation may be attributable to a lack of appreciation of the dynamics and synergy that exist between H&S and other project performance criteria and the role of H&S in reducing waste while realising sustainability. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between H&S, lean construction and sustainability. The effort is a precursor to the development of a research agenda to guide theoretically based future research that would inform managerial decisions in the domain. An extensive literature review was conducted to examine research and practice with respect to the concurrent use of H&S, lean and sustainability initiatives in construction. Corroboratory views related to the three strategic options were deduced from an in-depth review of the literature. Findings suggest that optimum H&S contributes to enhanced cost, environment, quality, and time performance, and overall reduction of waste and the realisation of sustainability in its broadest sense. Preliminary concluding remarks include: that H&S could be the catalyst for overall project performance in terms of lean construction and sustainability; and H&S should be promoted on the basis of its role in overall project performance, as opposed to the need to comply with legislation.


Health and Safety, Lean Construction, Sustainability, Waste.



Emuze, F. & Smallwood, J. 2013. The Integration of Health and Safety (H&S), Lean and Sustainability in Construction: A Literature Review, 21th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 853-862.

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