Workers at the Edge: Hazard Recognition and Action

Panagiotis Mitropoulos1, Gregory A. Howell2 & Paul Reiser3

1Research Associate, Lean Construction Institute, Box 1003, Ketchum, ID 83340,
2Executive Director, Lean Construction Institute, Box 1003, Ketchum, ID 83340,
3Vice President, Production and Process Innovation, The Boldt Company, Box 419, Appleton Wisconsin.


Supervisors and workers report they work in the danger zone where errors can have terrible consequences. Current best practice safety programs aim to train and motivate workers to avoid hazards. These programs attempt to counter pressure for improved efficiency and reduced effort but are only partly successful. A new approach has been proposed that aims to improve safety by increasing the ability of workers to work safely closer to the edge where control is lost and accidents occur (Howell, et al, 2002). In this paper we review and propose the implementation of an approach drawn from aviation. Airline safety has been improved by a system designed to alert pilots of hazards identified by anyone on the flight deck. Crew Resource Management (CRM) protocols establish a safe and emphatic way to alert the pilot that the safety of the flight is at risk. This system is designed to overcome the reluctance of junior members to make suggestions to more senior officers. Specific simple communication rules are established to assure the gravity and source of the concern is made apparent without disrupting normal roles and responsibilities. While flying a plane is different from working in a construction crew, we suspect that construction workers are reluctant, for a variety of reason to speak up when hazards are encountered. Taking risks is considered part of the job. This paper describes CRM, and proposes an experimental application in construction.


Construction safety, Crew Resource Management, Human Error, Error Management



Mitropoulos, P. , Howell, G.A. & Reiser, P. 2003, 'Workers at the Edge: Hazard Recognition and Action' In:, 11th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Virginia, USA, 1-.

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