Propagation mechanics from workplace hazards to human errors with dissipative structure theory

Mei Liu, Pingbo Tang, Pin Chao Liao, Linyu Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Human error by workers is the most important causal factor in accidents. This study aims to improve construction safety by controlling critical hazards using dissipative structure theory (DST) applied to an associated network of workplace hazards. To analyze the interaction of hazards leading to human errors, the associated network is established using the cognitive reliability and error analysis method (CREAM) and complex network theory. This network-based approach is applied to the onsite hazard and rectification records of seven construction projects in Qingdao, China. DST is employed to simulate the energy exchange process in the consideration of hazard association and management. Finally, we measure the ability of the proposed model to simplify the propagation of hazards. The results indicate that (1) critical hazards and hazard couplings related to falling mainly derive from sequence errors, insufficient knowledge, missed observations, and inadequate planning; (2) the energy transfer mechanism and key hazard path can be obtained using DST in the process of hazard triggering; and (3) the proposed DST approach has the ability to simplify the hazard associated network regarding the hazard-triggering process. This research contributes to the analysis of hazard propagation leading to human errors from the perspective of energy exchange, and thus assists in the formulation of a proactive safety management plan for controlling and rectifying critical hazards in construction engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104661
JournalSafety Science
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Dissipative structure
  • Human error
  • Network
  • Safety assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Propagation mechanics from workplace hazards to human errors with dissipative structure theory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this