Safety in design : a study of designer’s motivation in Canberra, Australia

  • Alexander Sherrard

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Construction is a high-risk occupation, and more needs to be done to increase safety. Traditionally, the responsibility for construction safety has been with the builder. To further improve construction safety, there is a need to look upstream into the design phase. Safety hazard identification during the design phase, referred to as Safety in Design (SID),can influence worker injuries, improves design quality and delivers long-term economic benefits. However, despite the known benefits of SID and proposed ways forward, studies have shown designers lack the motivation to implement SID. Little is understood about why there is a lack of motivation, and how to best motivate designers to implement SID. To address the knowledge gap, this research uses self-determination theory (SDT),a motivational theory that differentiates six different levels of motivation, to investigate the designer’s motivation and makes recommendations aimed to improve SID implementation. Semi-structured interviews with 16 architects and 14 engineers from Canberra Australia were undertaken to better understand the perceived benefits of SID for the construction industry, the barriers inhibiting SID and the current motivation of designers to increase SID implementation. The research found that: designers lack an awareness and value of the SID concept; designers lack clarity on how to implement SID; there is a lack of enforcement and incentive for designers to increase SID implementation; and, there is a low safety culture within the design industry. Based on these findings, a Safety in Design Motivational Model (SIDMM) was established to help motivate designers to implement SID. The SIDMM informed five key recommendations to practice: 1) create awareness of the SID concept and legislation; 2) identify the value of SID to the designer; 3) increase the designer’s knowledge of how to implement SID; 4) improve the safety culture of the design industry by aligning culture improvement with the SIDMM; and,5) enforce SID where it is deliberately ignored.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRichard Hu (Supervisor) & Lain Dare (Supervisor)

    Cite this