EXPLAINING SAFETY VIOLATIONS AND ERRORS IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
 
Fogarty, G. and Neal, T., University of Southern Queensland, Australia
 
A construction worker is twice as likely to be killed at work than a worker in all of the other Australian industries combined. Nationally there are over 60 workers killed in construction each year (Qld Govt, 2000). Within the building and construction industry, there were 19,336 workers' compensation claims made in Australia, costing in the vicinity of $64 million for the financial years 1994/95 to 1998/99. These costs are staggering in their own right, but they increase further when the emotional and social costs of workplace incidents and accidents are factored into the equation. This study investigated the human factors aspects of organisational accidents and incidents in the construction industry, exploring the hypothesis that organisational variables are more likely to influence safety violations than errors and that individual variables are more likely to influence errors than safety violations. The sample consisted of 123 commercial construction workers. The organisational factors of Recognition, Communication, Coworker Support, Perceived Management Attitude, and Stressors were found to be the main predictors of safety violations (R2 = .30), while the individual variable of Strain was the major predictor of workplace errors (R2 = .48). Individual variables were not associated with safety violations. Path analyses using AMOS supported a model showing that coping skills mediate the impact of organizational variables on individual workers but have no impact on safety violations. Implications of these findings are discussed.