Chapter 26: Human Factors and Ergonomics in the Construction and Demolition Industry: A Dynamic and Diverse Environment

by Daniel Hummerdal and Stuart Shirreff

Practitioner summary

This chapter outlines dimensions that may be relatively unique to the construction and demolition industries. Each aspect provides a challenge and an opportunity where HF/E practitioners can make a difference in these fields. To demonstrate this, we have provided two case studies of how our work has brought about a different way of understanding and acting in relation to work.

Chapter quotes

“HF/E is a relatively new field to both construction and demolition, which are used to being governed by the rule-book and project delivery contracts.”

“Construction and demolition is about putting buildings and structures together mechanically, and taking them apart. The process has probably not changed much since first moving out from the core dwellings. That said, with advancements in technology and materials, both construction and deconstruction techniques have changed dramatically, and not always for the best…putting timber window lining in once involved a tape measure, hand saw, small jack-plane and a hammer…today… the same task would be carried out with a portable electric saw, an electric planer and probably a pneumatic nail gun…this comes with an increase in dust exposure, hand-arm vibrations, and noise levels.”

“As a fragmented industry, there are large gaps between different stakeholders in construction and demolition. This makes it difficult to access and convey information between organisations. While the need to integrate knowledge across consultation stages and between stakeholders is often recognised by both stakeholders and regulators, the disconnect in both time and space makes it challenging to access, and convey, information across organisational and process gaps.”

“The success of HF/E practitioners in these domains is partly predicated on the ability to explain why new ways of doing things are needed – in particular to senior management. As such, knowledge of HF/E principles and models is but one part of making progress in this field.”

Practitioner reflections

About drclairewilliams

I am a senior consultant at Human Applications and Visiting Research Fellow in Human Factors and Behaviour Change at the University of Derby. Most of my work just now deals with leadership and culture in the health and safety realm; trying to support organisations to take a systems approach to understanding behaviour. I blog in a personal capacity. Views expressed here are mine and not those of any affiliated organisation, unless stated otherwise. You can find me on twitter at @claire_dr
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