Date of Award

Spring 1-2-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Matthew R. Hallowell

Second Advisor

Paul Goodrum

Third Advisor

Alex Albert


Although there are several barriers facing the implementation of Construction Hazard Prevention though Design (CHPtD), the most elusive barrier is the capability of designers to identify and mitigate hazards encountered by construction workers. We argue that CHPtD is only effective to the extent that construction hazards are apparent during design (recognizable) and designers are capable of hazard recognition (skill). Our research is the first experimental study aimed to measure: (1) the types and quantity of hazards recognizable during design; and (2) the skill of designers at identifying these hazards. In order to systematically measure this, we selected highly modularized building components, observed all hazards present on site during installation, and then tested designers' abilities to recognize these hazards while only providing them with the construction plans, specifications and descriptions of work (the only resources available during the design phase). Among other findings, our study brought forth initial evidence that: (1) 24% of hazards present in the field can be considered latent during design; (2) designers can currently recognize 33.5% of the total hazards present in the field; (3) designers with construction experience in the field have significantly higher hazard recognition skills than designers who have never worked in the field; and (4) by introducing an energy mnemonic method, designers experienced an average increase of 30% to their hazard recognition skill. We conclude that with hazard recognition scores this low, even when excluding latent hazards, designers' abilities to influence safety are severely limited in its current state. Nevertheless, we found that it is also possible to dramatically increase designer hazard recognition to mitigate this concern. Since designers' understanding of construction hazards is crucial to their ability to mitigate them, there must be further research to evaluate the potential efficacy of this important concept.