Title page for ETD etd-07122010-122950

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Haro, Elizabet
Author's Email Address eharo@vt.edu
URN etd-07122010-122950
Title An Evaluation of Perceived and Observed Safety and Productivity in Residential Construction
Degree PhD
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kleiner, Brian M. Committee Chair
Nussbaum, Maury A. Committee Member
Shewchuk, John P. Committee Member
Smith-Jackson, Tonya L. Committee Member
Vorster, Michael C. Committee Member
  • risk
  • safety climate
  • construction productivity
  • macroergonomics
  • construction safety
Date of Defense 2010-06-28
Availability unrestricted
The construction industry leads the private sector with the most fatalities of any industry in the United States. With an expected growth of the industry in the next century, safe work environments are imperative. They will impact the bottom line of the industry through the reduction of fatal and non-fatal injuries.

Although the causes of injuries and illnesses in construction have long been tracked, reported and researched, the industry continues to lead in occupational related fatal and non-fatal injuries. It is critical to understand if a tradeoff exists between safety and productivity to avoid shortcut behaviors in the field. This is specifically important due to the number of contractors, subcontractors and laborers that participate in the different projects.

The overall objective of this research was to increase the understanding of the relationship between perceived and observed safety and productivity and to understand the variability in perception and behavior between crews working for the same general contractor in the homebuilding construction industry. For this research, questionnaires and behavioral observations were employed.

The results demonstrated a significant moderate positive relationship between safety climate and perceived risk behavior at the crew level. A model was developed that suggests that safety climate and work ownership are predictors of perceived risk behaviors. This relationship is important to understand since employee attitudes, safety commitment and organizational factors may affect acceptability of safety processes and procedures.

The differences among construction crews were evaluated at two levels, individual crews and critical path groups. All tests were significant for differences among crews. To further understand these differences, crews were grouped in accordance with the critical path of a homebuilding schedule. A significant difference existed for risk behavior, productivity loss and work ownership.

Behavioral observations were used to evaluate crew performance. Top contributing behaviors of productivity, safety and waste were identified. The top behaviors provide improvement areas for productivity, safety and waste.

Overall, learning from this research provided insight into the relationships between safety climate, risk behavior, productivity and work ownership. Understanding this relationship can contribute to the design of safety interventions, and consequently, the reduction of injuries and fatalities.

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