A Cognitive Perspective on the Safety Communication Factors That Affect Worker Behavior


Communication is vital for construction safety, but how it influences unsafe behavior in the work-place remains unclear. This study aims to explore the relationships between communication, cognitive failure, and unsafe behaviors in order to clarify those mechanics. We defined communication as management input, worker cognitive failure as process, and actual behaviors as management output. We collected data from three Chinese steel construction crews and utilized experience/behavior sampling and questionnaire surveys to collect project information. Bivariate statistical analyses were conducted to explain how communication affected unsafe behavior. The results showed that, rather than communication frequency, management communication style was significantly related to worker cognitive failure; specifically, communication style was related to perception of convenience and self-capacity, which could be upstream factors explaining unsafe behavior at the construction jobsite. This research provided statistical evidence supporting the hypothesized association among safety communication, cognitive failure, and behavior, bridging the missing gaps of previous research. Nonetheless, readers should interpret the results cautiously because of the limitations listed as follows. First, sample size is relatively small. In addition, crew turnover may mediate the relationship between communication and safe behaviors therefore, the impact of communication on cognitive failure can be blurred and a longitudinal study on specific crews working on the same job site could be used to evaluate it. Third, future research should focus on communication style, as it directly relates to the human cognitions that affect unsafe behavior at construction sites.

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Liao, P. , Jiang, L. , Liu, B. , Chen, C. , Fang, D. , Rao, P. and Zhang, M. (2014) A Cognitive Perspective on the Safety Communication Factors That Affect Worker Behavior. Journal of Building Construction and Planning Research, 2, 183-197. doi: 10.4236/jbcpr.2014.23017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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