Direction, method, and model for implementing design for construction worker safety in the US Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/fq977z15d

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  • The construction industry employs about 7% of the total US workforce, and yet it accounts for 15.7% of all occupational fatalities. Specifically in 2011, there were 721 deaths in construction, second only to transportation with 733. The cause of a large number of these construction deaths can be attributed to factors that are distant from the construction site. A European study has shown that 60% of fatal accidents in construction are caused by decisions made "upstream" from the construction site. Similarly, an Australian study showed that 63% of fatalities and injuries are attributed to a lack of planning and design decisions, while a study in the US has shown that 42% of construction site fatalities can be linked to the design of the facilities constructed. With such overwhelming evidence of fatalities attributed to design, other countries have enacted legislation to make designers aware of the impact their decisions have on construction sites, and to ultimately reduce construction hazards. In the US, designers are mostly unaware of the concept of Design for Construction Worker Safety (DCWS), or even that their design decisions can affect the safety of the construction workforce. Professional organizations regularly resist change and refuse to even consider participating in the DCWS concept that would eventually assist in the improvement of construction site working conditions. The research presented in this dissertation proposes the possibility of DCWS being implemented in the US. The first step of the research included a nationwide survey of the primary construction industry participants (owners, designers, and contractors) on the topic of DCWS. The survey investigated the extent of the acceptance of DCWS by industry participants, their opinions and identification of perceived obstacles or enablers of the concept, and the types of safety measures or safety plans they currently implement. Using a Delphi panel consisting of industry professionals and the results gathered by the survey, the second part of the dissertation presents the identification of a framework for generating interest in DCWS in the US. The panel members were asked to identify which industry group has the greatest influence to generate that interest, and were given four possible approaches to achieve that goal: business case, education, industry standards, and legislation. The Delphi panel chose the business case as a method of generating interest and identified the owner group as the project team member who is best able to generate interest in DCWS in the US. To develop the business case, the Delphi panel also identified possible line items to be used in a benefit/cost analysis. The third part of the dissertation discusses the development of a business case model using the line items identified in the second part. Two initial case studies were investigated where DCWS solutions were considered for the construction of two different projects. Personnel involved in these projects were asked to complete the business case model and compare the DCWS solutions with traditional solutions. The results showed that the DCWS solutions outscored traditional solutions. The benefit/cost model is a tool that can be used by owners to initially evaluate DCWS solutions. Additional projects need to be evaluated before the model can be an all-inclusive tool for all possible projects.
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