Mustapha A. Bello, PhD AECM Candidate's Proposal Presented and Approved-School of Architecture - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mustapha A. Bello, PhD AECM Candidate's Proposal Presented and Approved

"Minimizing Impediments to Design for Construction Safety (DFCS) Implementation on Capital Projects"

Congratulations Mustapha A. Bello, PhD AECM Candidate whose Phd Proposal was presented and approved on March 1st!

Mustapha A. Bello's proposal "Minimizing Impediments to Design for Construction Safety (DFCS) Implementation on Capital Projects", is described below.


The construction industry is notorious for having one of the worst safety records among all industries in the private sector (Bentil, 1990 and; Behm, 2005). In the United States, the industry accounts for up to 18% of work-related deaths and 15% of all worker compensation cases with approximately 1,000 construction workers killed annually (BLS, 2000-2009).

Towards minimizing safety hazards and incidents, construction companies employ several strategies including safety planning, staffing and training among many others (CII, 2003). Different strategies apply to different project phases. However, as the early identification and elimination of potential safety hazards is not only more effective but cheaper (Behm 2005 and; Anumba, 1999), those strategies applicable to the earlier project phases are likely to have a more significant impact in improving construction worker safety. One of such strategies, Design for Construction Safety (DFCS), has the ability to function effectively in the current industry environment without requiring any major changes in procedure or contractual structure. DFCS is the explicit consideration of construction worker safety in the design of a project (Toole and Gambatese, 2008). Besides the ultimate benefit of decreasing site safety hazards, DFCS, through the proactive identification and elimination of hazards is safer and more cost effective than reactive management of the same hazards (Toole and Gambatese, 2008).

The most critical impediments to DFCS include designers' concern about increased liability, increased cost and designers' lack of safety expertise. Others include concerns about schedule problems, diminished design creativity and designers’ lack of interest. To assist designers in DFCS implementation, safety researchers sponsored by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) developed over 400 design suggestions to minimize or eliminate certain construction safety hazards (Gambatese et al,1997). These suggestions were incorporated in a computer program, the DFCS Toolbox. Besides this, other research has been conducted and guidelines developed to aid DFCS implementation. However, as DFCS is still experiencing limited application (Toole and Gambatese, 2008), this research proposes a different paradigm. The paradigm considers that the guidelines and tools provided to enable and aid DFCS implementation are incomplete, inaccurate and/or inadequate to serve their intended purpose. Through this proposed research, some of the available guidelines and tools will be fine-tuned to better enable DFCS implementation. On this basis and with consideration given to feasibility, this research proposes a number of research deliverables and tasks.

Firstly, this research proposes to identify DFCS measures that meet all the criteria for being situated in the capital project design phase.  Secondly, the research will identify impediments for each of these  design-phase DFCS measures. Thirdly, the research proposes to revise the  measures based on their identified impediments to make them more viable  both for implementation and for improving construction safety.  Additionally, the

safety benefits of implementing each of the  design-phase DFCS measures will be determined utilizing the publicly accessible Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) database.  These benefits refer to the construction hazard incidents that could have  been prevented by implementing the DFCS measures. Lastly, a relational  database application will be developed to assist designers in making safety a consideration in the early phases of the capital project delivery  process. This desktop software application will have the functionality to  provide design-phase DFCS measures based on project characteristics along  with the potential benefits of implementing the measures. It will thus incorporate other proposed research deliverables. The product of using the tool is a printable document to serve as a recommendation or guideline for design professionals considering DFCS implementation. In producing and validating these proposed deliverables, surveys and interviews of Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) design professionals will be conducted.

DFCS is intended to decrease or eliminate construction safety hazard risks and as a result, reduce injury incidents. Towards this goal, the  research deliverables will provide a means of improving its  implementation.

Mustapha's Advisors are: Prof. Omer Akin, Prof. Burcu Akinci, Prof. Chimay Anumba