Impact of the ‘Contributing Factors in Construction Accidents’ (ConCA) model

In 2005 the ‘Contributing factors in Construction Accidents’ framework (ConCA) introduced a sociotechnical systems approach to risk management in construction. ConCA demonstrated the value of exploring distal factors and identifying underlying or latent causes: It promoted an understanding of construction accidents as systemic accidents and challenged an industry-wide culture of blaming frontline workers. A decade later the original article has been cited by research from 37 countries, shaping inquiries and initiatives to improve safety in both the UK and Australia. But to what extent has systems thinking infiltrated practitioners and policy-makers’ views? Despite broader views of contributing factors, many practitioners still view workers in a negative light, holding them responsible for accidents because of complacency, cynicism about safety, or a high-tolerance for risk. This paper evaluates the impact of the ConCA framework, updates it, and develops our understanding of the relationships between immediate circumstances and distal factors, as seen by an expert panel of participants (n = 32). A more in-depth ‘ConCA+’ framework is proposed. It challenges the negative perceptions of workers, and supports shifting the emphasis of risk management away from worker behaviors and towards resolving wider systemic issues. New directions are proposed which show how knowledge management, job design, technological innovation, empowerment and collaboration should be the focus of future work.