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Safe construction through design: perspectives from the site team

Larsen, G. D. and Whyte, J. (2013) Safe construction through design: perspectives from the site team. Construction Management and Economics, 31 (6). pp. 675-690. ISSN 1466-433X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2013.798424


How does the work of designers impact on the safety of operatives at the construction site? Safety research and policy emphasize the importance of designing for safe construction, yet the interface between design and construction is poorly understood: accidents have multiple causes making it hard to establish causal links between design choices and safety outcomes. An in-depth case study of a major station project examines how professionals on the construction site perceive and manage the safety challenges of a building design. Analyses reveal understandings that, on the project studied, design has an impact on safety because of: (1) the timing of design work, where the volume of late design changes increased the difficulty of planning safe procedures, e.g. for working at height, lifting heavy items, refurbishing and demolishing old buildings; and (2) inputs from design stakeholders with insufficient practical knowledge of construction and operation required unplanned work-arounds, e.g. to coordinate different sub-systems, provide maintenance access, and manage loads during construction. These findings suggest that safety suffers where projects are under-designed, and that alongside regulation, there is a need for robust management attention to the contractual structures, incentives, processes and tools that enable clients and designers to understand material practices of construction and operation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Organisation, People and Technology group
ID Code:33508
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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