The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Construction industry needed intensive care before the coronavirus

24 April 2020

The COVID-19 crisis is highlighting the health hazards of the industry’s failed business model, says Hedley Smyth.

construction frame

Professor Hedley Smyth has written a short report which shows evidence of the failed business model for contractors, and the failure to reform management at the C-suite level.  

The report discusses that the consequences of the failure to cascade down to show deep concerns for health, safety and wellbeing under the impact of COVID-19 and it won’t end there. COVID-19 will continue to highlight the failure of the C-suite among contractors to get a grip of the problems. The consequences for society, the economy and policy are very serious. Clients and society have not been served well and it is only going to get worse unless the fundamental management problems are addressed.

Professor Smyth, who is leading research in the area of the management of the construction firm and on occupational health, safety and wellbeing, says:

"The wake-up call has been getting louder, but management are still asleep. The snooze button is so attractive when senior management are overstretched, incentivised by bonuses that are linked short-term to dividend declaration, and whose tenures will be over by the time the shifts necessarily yield benefits to the firms. Surely the time for procrastination is up or exclusion by others and extinction by disruptors will be the new order of the day."

In addition to this report, Professor Smyth has also written an article on the subject which has been published in Construction Manager Magazine.