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Title: Aging and safety performance : a statistical analysis of unsafe behaviors among construction workers
Authors: Yin, Qin
Degree: M.Phil.
Issue Date: 2016
Abstract: Safety awareness in the construction industry has been raised substantially in the past few decades around the globe. For one thing, the hazard-prone nature of construction works demands attention to safety. For another, construction companies have realized that accident prevention, which had been advocated on moral basis, greatly benefits them in economic terms. The aging workforce problem is getting more and more severe in the construction industry. The Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong stated that the median age of Hong Kong population increased from 36.7 in 2001 to 41.7 in 2011. And they estimated that the situation shall get worse as the projected population aged above 65 would soar from 13% in 2011 to 30% in 2041. With the growing number of older workers, the aging effect on safety performance is becoming a vital issue. In general, aging is associated with declined physical abilities and increased cognitive capabilities, which lead to a mixed effect on safety performance. Physical constrains make senior workers more vulnerable to dangers, but their experience could help them avoid dangers on site. Previous research has demonstrated the relationship between age and injury/accidents, but failed to investigate the relationship between age and unsafe behaviors. In the classic safety pyramid, unsafe behaviors are at the very bottom, which directly reflect workers' safety attitude and capabilities to comply with safety regulations. By monitoring workers' safety behaviors on site, we could reveal more information on how aging affects safety performance.
Real-time location systems (RTLS) applied on construction sites can objectively monitor workers' safety behaviors, as it provides information on how often workers enter danger zones and how they react to danger warnings. These records will demonstrate workers safety attitude and their ability to comply with safety warnings, which are direct reflections of their safety performance. In this study, to explore the relationship between aging and safety performance, a RTLS called Proactive Construction Management System (PCMS) was applied in a field study in Shanghai. The system recorded workers unsafe behaviors (entering pre-defined danger zones) and their reaction to danger warnings. The frequency of entering danger zones and the average response time were chosen as the metrics to assess safety performance for workers in different age groups. Through statistical analysis with the help of IBM SPSS, the results revealed that aging has mildly negative effects on safety performance, as in general older workers entered danger zones more frequently and had longer response time. More specifically, the findings are mostly consistent with previous findings in identifying workers in age group 31-40 have the worst safety performance. But the bad safety performance identified in older workers is more worrisome for the aging construction industry. Despite their high awareness of safety issues on site, older workers still exhibited unsatisfactory safety performance most likely due to their declined physical capabilities. As a result, more attention should be drawn to enhance the safety performance among older workers. In practice, senior workers might be better-off assigned to less dangerous jobs, and special safety warnings and protection gears will be helpful in extending their working life.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Construction industry -- Safety measures.
Building -- Safety measures.
Age and employment.
Pages: 117 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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