Grant to Improve Residential Construction Safety
February 15, 2011
Two professors have been awarded a research grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that will help reduce injuries and save lives among residential construction workers by addressing jobsite fall prevention. Daniel Hindman, associate professor of wood science and forest products, and Tonya Smith-Jackson, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, will use the $825,464 grant to fund a four-year project in Virginia Tech’s Occupational Safety and Health Research Center to develop and evaluate a new Fall Arrest System for residential housing construction.
This grant provides insight into the challenges of residential construction safety and addresses the need for fall protection
The project will adapt an existing Fall Arrest System — a set of equipment, typically including a safety harness, lanyard, and anchorage system, used to prevent construction workers from falling while they perform their daily tasks — from post-frame construction and redesign it for second-story work. The researchers will analyze the system’s usability in actual construction situations as well as collect valuable information on the needs and attitudes of workers. Ease of use, worker attitudes and perceptions, and the loss of construction time by using safety equipment are among the top concerns.
“This grant provides insight into the challenges of residential construction safety and addresses the need for fall protection,” stated Hindman. Smith-Jackson added, “Our work benefits from synergies between engineering, wood science, and psychology. We are able to address the Fall Arrest System as a real sociotechnical system that is influenced by the physical design and usability of the system, as well as company management, organizational and cultural factors, and workers’ attitudes.”