Safety Campaigns in Three Regions (Completed – 2004-2009)
Peter Y. Chen, MA, PhD
Colorado State University Department of Psychology
Fort Collins, CO
John Rosecrance, PhD, April Smith, MS, and others at Colorado State University; Partners: Pipefitters Locals 208, 290, & 420, Mechanical Contractor Associations in Denver, Portland, and Philadelphia, and Pinnacol Assurance.
Dr. Chen and his research team developed and field-tested programs designed to train workers, foremen, and superintendents to stop the chain of events leading to an accident. The training emphasized discussing worksite safety issues respectfully, sharing near misses, and providing constructive feedback.
The team delivered the training at three firms: Saunders Construction, in Denver; Temp Control Mechanical in Portland, Oregon; and Nooter Construction in Philadelphia. In follow-up surveys, the researchers found that knowledge and safety communication skills were generally increased through the training program. One contractor experienced a statistically significant decline in the number of work-related injuries during the six months following the training. Foremen found the training boosted their confidence in recognizing good work, and workers reported they felt more comfortable sharing their mistakes with foremen.
Original Project Abstract:
Construction industries have the third highest fatality rate when compared to other occupations. Although the construction industry comprised only 6% of the workforce in 1999, it accounted for 20% of the fatal occupational injuries across all industry types. Extending from past research and pilot studies with United Association (UA) Locals in three regions, the proposed project will evaluate safety barrier interventions and safety communication campaigns. Specifically, there are two major components to the proposed project: (1) to develop, implement, and evaluate training programs for construction workers and contractors designed to alleviate the barriers preventing safe working behavior; and (2) to disseminate the research findings from the first project component to the greater construction community. Union pipefitters and plumbers in three UA Locals and construction contractors that employ union pipefitters and plumbers (contractor representatives) from three geographical regions will participate in all aspects of the project. Activities of the first component involve: (1) surveying worker and contractor representatives to identify barriers to safe working behavior considered to be most prevalent and severe; (2) implementing training programs for worker and contractor representatives that address ways to alleviate these barriers; and (3) assessing the effectiveness of these training programs for reducing barriers, increasing safety behaviors, and decreasing injuries. Activities of the second component involve: (1) developing the most attractive and effective dissemination channels of safety research findings based on focus groups of worker, contractor, and other safety representatives: (2) tailoring safety campaigns to worker and contractor representatives; and (3) evaluating the effectiveness of the safety communication campaigns for increasing knowledge and awareness about construction safety barriers. Both components of the project will be pilot tested in one region, modified based on pilot test results, and implemented in an incremental fashion across the other two regions.