Contributing factors in construction accidents

This overview paper draws together findings from previous focus group research and studies of 100 individual construction accidents. Pursuing issues raised by the focus groups, the accident studies collected qualitative information on the circumstances of each incident and the causal influences involved. Site based data collection entailed interviews with accidentinvolved personnel and their supervisor or manager, inspection of the accident location, and review of appropriate documentation. Relevant issues from the site investigations were then followed up with off-site stakeholders, including designers, manufacturers and suppliers. Levels of involvement of key factors in the accidents were: problems arising from workers or the work team (70% of accidents), workplace issues (49%), shortcomings with equipment (including PPE) (56%), problems with suitability and condition of materials (27%), and deficiencies with risk management (84%). Employing an ergonomics systems approach, a model is proposed, indicating the manner in which originating managerial, design and cultural factors shape the circumstances found in the work place, giving rise to the acts and conditions which, in turn, lead to accidents. It is argued that attention to the originating influences will be necessary for sustained improvement in construction safety to be achieved.