Reinforcement of Knowledge in Safety Science: An Exploration of Introducing Multidisciplinary Theories into Construction Safety Research


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date5 Oct 2021


Objective: This study aims to introduce and modify multidisciplinary theories to reinforce the knowledge body of construction safety research. Theories and corresponding analytic methods from econometrical and epidemiological areas were introduced as examples to assess the effects of socioeconomic and meteorological factors on construction safety performance in China.

Data: For the socioeconomic aspect, the data for fatal accidents and fatalities in China during 1996-2016 was collected for fluctuation and trends with macroeconomic and industry-specific indicators.

Regarding the meteorological effects, 289 fatal accidents in the construction industry in Chongqing City during 2012-2018, and corresponding meteorological observations, including temperature, wind speed, humidity, and solar irradiation, were gathered and synthesized into weekly-based indicators.

Methods: Engle-Granger cointegration analysis was applied to assess relations between work-related fatalities and fluctuation in general economic and industry-specific conditions, followed by the augmented Granger Causality test with modified Wald method to test the reliability of findings.

On the other hand, the distributed lag non-linear model (DLNM) was applied to explore the impact of meteorological conditions on the occurrence of work-related fatal accidents in the construction industry in Chongqing city.

Results: In the socioeconomic study, both the long-run equilibrium associations and short-run dynamic interactions between construction safety and macroeconomic development in China were determined. According to the estimates, fatalities in the construction industry appear to be more significantly associated with changes in the gross output value of the industry, and the improvement in the workers' efficiency also contributes to the decline of fatalities. It initially revealed that the changes in growth rate, instead of growth itself, have a more significant influence on construction safety in China, while a marginal decreasing trend of positive effects exerted by the growth can be expected with the gradual maturity of the industry.

Regarding the meteorological study, an exposure-lag-response association was revealed within interested variables, which roughly appears a U-shaped curve whereas exhibiting an inverted U shape during the range corresponding to strong heat stress. It implied that relative risk remains significant during both cold stress zone and strong heat stress zone, whilst the lagged effects corresponding to cold and strong heat stress were observed, with approximate durations up to 21 and 4 days, respectively.

Innovation: The proposed research is one of the initial attempts of extending the previous studies in the construction safety area to the macro-level, both in terms of socio-economic indicators and meteorological indicators. By separately analyzing the data characterized by linearity and non-linearity, this pioneering work in the study revealed the patterns between construction fatalities and socio-economic fluctuation in the context of developing economies, and the exposure-lag-response associations between construction accidents and meteorological conditions at the city level.

Significance: Introduction of multidisciplinary theories and corresponding analytic approach extended the boundary of construction safety knowledge to a macro level, and the resultant findings may contribute to gaining in-depth knowledge of the underlying rules of occurrence of accidents in the construction industry and to helping the policymakers and practitioners formulate more tailored and flexible safety-related interventions with considering the economic and meteorological effects.