Health & SafetyExecutive
Causal factors in construction accidents
Departments of Human Sciences andCivil and Building Engineering
Loughborough UniversityLeicestershireLE11 3TU
Manchester Centre for Civil andConstruction Engineering
UMISTSackville StreetManchesterM60 1QD
This research used a combination of focus groups and detailed study of 100 construction accidents,using an ergonomics systems approach, to identify where safety is compromised and why. Drawingtogether the findings, an accident model has been proposed, illustrating the hierarchy of influences inconstruction accidents. The model describes how accidents arise from a failure in the interactionbetween the work team, workplace, equipment and materials. These immediate accidentcircumstances are affected by shaping factors, whereby the actions, behaviour, capabilities andcommunication of the work team are affected by their attitudes, motivations, knowledge, skills,supervision, health and fatigue. The workplace is affected by site constraints, work scheduling andhousekeeping. The suitability, usability, condition and, therefore, safety of materials and equipmentdepend on their design, specification and supply/availability. These shaping factors are subject tooriginating influences, including the permanent works design, project management, constructionprocesses, safety culture, risk management, client requirements, economic climate and educationprovision. Achieving a sustained improvement in safety in the industry will require concerted effortsdirected at all levels in the influence hierarchy.This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Itscontents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and donot necessarily reflect HSE policy.