Design and planning opportunities for effectively minimizing worker exposure to cumulative health hazards

Linda Tello, David Grau Torrent

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A proper agenda for hazards with a cumulative impact on the human health is lacking in the construction industry. Poor preventative and compensatory health practices with large deficiencies in employers' understanding of cumulative health hazards are contributing to this dearth. Profitability, the economic motivation of the construction industry establishes an opportunity for identifying health practices that can potentially mitigate the exposure of its skilled workforce to both short-term and long-term health hazards. Design and planning offer opportunities to both engineers and managers to minimize the exposure of construction workers to cumulative hazards, but such opportunities have not been documented or investigated. In this study, qualitative and quantitative methods are used to determine the practices for the prevention of exposures to welding fumes and crystalline silica. A content analysis of semi-structured interviews with workers and occupational safety and health experts is used to develop survey questions. This study leverages the Delphi method, a structured expert elicitation technique, and uses the survey questions to facilitate the identification and characterize of a comprehensive list of practices spanning planning, design, construction, and work hygiene opportunities/practices. What emerges is that the areas where the greatest opportunity to influence worker health can be at the design and planning stages of a project-potentially creating a new professional paradigm for the construction industry. This research brings to light that ultimately, it is not short-term profitability concerns that prevent the implementation of health practices, but rather it is the need for increasing the understanding within the construction industry of how worker health is directly tied to productivity and profitability in overall business processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConstruction Research Congress 2018
Subtitle of host publicationSafety and Disaster Management - Selected Papers from the Construction Research Congress 2018
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780784481288
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
EventConstruction Research Congress 2018: Safety and Disaster Management, CRC 2018 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Apr 2 2018Apr 4 2018


OtherConstruction Research Congress 2018: Safety and Disaster Management, CRC 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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