A Cognitive Systems Engineering Perspective of Construction Safety

Tarcisio A. Saurin1, Carlos T. Formoso2, Fabricio B. Cambraia3 & Gregory Howell4

1Ph.D., Researcher at LOPP/UFRGS (Product and Process Optimization Laboratory, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul). Praça Argentina nº 9, 2º andar. Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil. CEP 90040-020. Fax: 55-51-3316- 4007. E-mail: tasaurin@terra.com.br
2Ph.D., Associate Professor at NORIE/UFRGS (Building Innovation Research Unit, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul). Av. Osvaldo Aranha, 99, 3º andar. Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil. CEP 90040-020. Fax: 55-51-3316- 4054. E-mail: formoso@vortex.ufrgs.br
3Ph.D. student at NORIE/UFRGS. Av. Osvaldo Aranha, 99, 3º andar. Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil. CEP 90040-020. E-mail: fabricio@ppgec.ufrgs.br
4Executive Director, Lean Construction Institute, PO Box 1003, Ketchum, ID 83340-1003, Phone +1 208/726-9989, FAX 707/238-1369, ghowell@leanconstruction.org

Abstract

In recent IGLC Conferences some papers have taken a cognitive systems engineering perspective of construction safety. The assumption underlying those papers has been that traditional safety management tools have failed to recognize that it is unavoidable to work close to edge where control is lost and that new mechanisms are necessary to increase the ability of workers to work safely under such circumstances. Based on data collected in five construction sites in which the authors have implemented a Safety Planning and Control model, this paper sets a preliminary discussion on the applicability of some cognitive systems engineering concepts to construction safety. Due to the nature of the data available, the discussion is structured in four topics: identification of pressures and performance migrations towards unsafe zones of work; pre-task safety planning as a mechanism to develop judgment in workers; visibility of the boundaries of safe performance; incident analysis from the cognitive perspective. A set of opportunities for future research is outlined, such as the development of mechanisms to both identify and monitor pressures and the development of structured protocols to carry out investigations from a cognitive perspective.

Keywords

Safety, Cognitive engineering, Human error, Boundaries.

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Reference

Saurin, T.A. , Formoso, C.T. , Cambraia, F.B. & Howell, G. 2005, 'A Cognitive Systems Engineering Perspective of Construction Safety' In:, 13th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Sydney, Australia, 19-21 Jul 2005. pp 521-529

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