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The management of temporary works is a critical aspect of construction projects, ensuring safety and compliance throughout the process. However, the differences between the private and public sectors in handling temporary works can be stark, with the private sector often viewed as a breeding ground for conflicts of interest. This stems from the corporate greed of shareholders and the complex roles that project managers often play, particularly when they are also appointed as Temporary Works Coordinators (TWCs).

The Corporate Greed Factor

In private sector companies, the drive for profit and the pressure to satisfy shareholders can significantly impact decision-making processes. This pressure can lead to cost-cutting measures and shortcuts that compromise the safety and integrity of temporary works. Shareholders’ demand for high returns often means that project budgets are tightly controlled, leaving little room for the thorough and sometimes costly measures required for proper temporary works management.

The Role of Project Managers as TWCs

Project managers in the private sector frequently find themselves wearing multiple hats, one of which is the role of the Temporary Works Coordinator. On the surface, it might seem logical to appoint project managers as TWCs since they are ultimately responsible for the project's success. The idea is that since the buck stops with them, they would be the most diligent in ensuring everything is done correctly.

However, this dual role often places project managers in precarious positions, where conflicts of interest can arise. The need to meet project deadlines and budget constraints, driven by shareholder expectations, can clash with the rigorous demands of temporary works safety and compliance. Project managers may find themselves in situations where they must choose between adhering to stringent safety protocols and cutting corners to keep the project on track and within budget.

The Dilemma of Conflicts of Interest

The conflict of interest inherent in this dual role can lead to several problematic outcomes:

  • Compromised Safety: The pressure to reduce costs and speed up project timelines can result in inadequate temporary works planning and implementation, increasing the risk of accidents and failures.
  • Ethical Dilemmas: Project managers may face ethical dilemmas where they must balance their professional responsibility to ensure safety with the financial pressures exerted by their employers and shareholders.
  • Reduced Effectiveness: The effectiveness of the TWC role is diminished when the individual is also juggling other significant project responsibilities. This divided attention can lead to oversights and mistakes in temporary works management.

Comparing with the Public Sector

In contrast, public sector projects often have different priorities and pressures. While budget constraints still exist, the emphasis on public safety and regulatory compliance tends to be stronger. Public sector organisations are typically less driven by profit and more by public accountability, which can lead to a more robust approach to managing temporary works. The separation of roles is also more common, reducing the likelihood of conflicts of interest.

Finding a Balance

To mitigate these issues in the private sector, several strategies can be employed:

  1. Clear Role Separation: Ensuring that the TWC role is distinct from the project manager role can help eliminate conflicts of interest. This allows TWCs to focus solely on safety and compliance without the pressure of project timelines and budgets.
  2. Enhanced Oversight: Implementing stronger oversight and audit mechanisms can ensure that temporary works management adheres to safety standards and regulations, regardless of shareholder pressures.
  3. Training and Support: Providing project managers and TWCs with adequate training and support can help them better navigate the pressures of their roles and make informed, ethical decisions.


The private sector’s focus on profitability and shareholder satisfaction can indeed create a breeding ground for conflicts of interest in the management of temporary works. Project managers, often placed in the difficult position of also serving as TWCs, face significant challenges in balancing safety and financial pressures. By recognising these conflicts and implementing measures to address them, private sector companies can improve the safety and effectiveness of their temporary works management, ensuring better outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

Is the Private Sector a Breeding Ground for Conflicts of Interest When It Comes to the Management of Temporary Works?