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Aranda-Mena, G (2003) Mapping workers' cognitive structures of construction site hazards, Unpublished PhD Thesis, School of Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading.

  • Type: Thesis
  • Keywords: Construction Health & Safety; Project & Construction Management; Building Design & Engineering; Architecture; Ergonomics; Human Resources Management; People-Environment Studies; Risk-taking Behaviour; Risk Homeostasis Theory; Hazard Perception & Cognition
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  • Abstract:
    This thesis aims to validate a psychological model to explain how construction workers modify their risk-taking behaviour when safety schemes are implemented. This thesis demonstrates that the introduction of safety schemes through design (architectural/engineering), management (project/construction) and ergonomics (training/protective equipment) do not necessarily improve construction safety, due to the ensuing compensatory changes in risk-taking behaviour among construction workers. The thesis illustrates how construction workers modify their risk-taking behaviour when a safety scheme is implemented. Hazard categories emerged from the data to reveal a framework which explains the underlying compensatory phenomena. This framework brings a psychological input into Gerald S. Wilde's accident compensation - or homeostatic - theory (Wilde, 1988). This thesis proposes a constructivist model to explain risk-taking behaviour. The model is founded on George A. Kelly's theory of personal constructs (Kelly 1955). It employs the homeostatic model as a means to explain human reactions to system modifications. It aims to bring a psychological input into design, planning and management practices in construction. This is achieved by revealing workers' cognitive structures of construction site hazards. An action research approach was undertaken to investigate how construction workers react to system modifications. The study was carried out under case study conditions taking three new building projects of similar characteristics. Workers' of ten various trades, planners, designers, surveyors, managers and client representative took part in the study. In situ use of immersive photographic scenes (panoramic virtual reality) projected in a portakabin's room was the setting for the investigation. Repertory grid technique was the method underpinning the investigation. It is anticipated that the risk-compensatory phenomena will have an impact on the design and implementation of safety policies for project planning, design and management in the construction industry. Increasing awareness of the nature and degree of behavioural modifications when introducing, or assessing, safety schemes will achieve improvements in construction health & safety.