Projects

Industry Projects

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Workers’ health and wellbeing

Providing work environments and jobs that enable workers to be healthy, happy and productive is critical. We work with industry to understand the factors affecting the health and wellbeing of workers and help our partners to design and evaluate evidence-informed measures to effectively promote heathy and inclusive ways of working.

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Work-life balance

Work-life balance is an important issue for the construction industry, in terms of workers’ health, family functioning and organisational effectiveness. We have conducted extensive research with industry partners examining the ways that work practices impact upon workers’ ability to participate effectively in family, leisure, social and community activities. Our work is helping industry partners to support workers in achieving a healthy balance between their work and non-work lives.

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Workplace safety

Organisations are required to manage workplace safety and to reduce the risk of workplace accidents to be as low as reasonably possible. Our work investigates how workplace safety can be better integrated into the management of construction projects, including through client procurement practices, safety in design and participatory work design processes.

Doctoral research projects

Michelle Turner

Title: The development of a work-life fit model: a demands and resources approach

Date: 2012

Summary: Workers of the Australian construction industry experience demands, such as long working hours, irregular work schedules and geographically isolated work locations. Research has indicated a clear relationship between excessive work demands and work-life conflict, which has negative impacts for workers’ health and wellbeing. Coupled with work demands, workers also experience demands originating from their family and community domains, which is often driven by life stage and individual preferences of workers. To fulfill work, family and community demands, workers often call on resources such as supervisor support, flexibility of work schedule, and childcare. The research sought to (i) identify the demands and resources relevant to workers of the Australian construction industry; (ii) identify the demand-resource profiles on different worker groups within a diverse construction workforce; (iii) investigate whether individual attributes influence demand-resource profiles; and (iv) evaluate whether Q Methodology was a suitable methodology with which to explore the work-life experience of workers of the construction industry. The findings form the basis of a new work-life fit model which applies a demands-resources approach.

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Nor Haslinda Abas

Title: Development of a Knowledge-Based Energy Damage Model for Evaluating Industrialised Building System (IBS) Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Risk

Date: March 2010 - January 2015

Summary: This research presents a comparative evaluation of the occupational health and safety (OHS) risk presented by different construction approaches, namely Industrialised Building System (IBS) and traditional methods. The evaluation involved developing a model based on the concept of ‘argumentation theory’, which helps construction designers integrate the management of OHS risk into the design process. In addition, an ‘energy damage model’ was used as an underpinning framework. The model provides a means of evaluating OHS risk among construction workers, which could help designers understand the extent to which their design decisions may impact on OHS and thereby assist them to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. The research revealed that different approaches/methods of construction projects carried a different level of energy damage, depending on how the activities were carried out, particularly IBS construction and traditional methods. This thesis contributes to knowledge by suggesting options available to product and process designers that allow them to assess the extent to which their design decisions reduce OHS risk in construction and offering a more rigorous comparison of the OHS risks in IBS and traditional approaches. 

Payam Pirzadeh

Title: A social network perspective on design for construction safety

Date: 2018

Summary: The high rate of injuries and accidents in the construction industry continues to be a major concern worldwide. Recently, the proactive practice of anticipating and ‘designing out’ work health and safety (WHS) risks at early project stages, known as ‘safety in design’, has gained recognition in construction policy, legislation and practice. Despite this recognition, evidence from the industry indicates suboptimal results in practice. This study was undertaken to investigate the socio-technical complexities of design decision-making and its impact on WHS. Using case studies from the Australian construction industry, the study provided empirical evidence reflecting the vital role of effective communication and interdisciplinary consultation between project participants in achieving WHS improvements by design. Moreover, the features of effective communication that support safety in design were revealed. The findings are useful for design professionals, industry bodies and regulators to identify what good practice looks like in terms of integrating health and safety into construction design.

Awards:

  • RMIT Research Award 2019 - RMIT Prize for Research Excellence – Higher Degree by Research (Design)
  • Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Research Award in 2019
  • Awarded a bursary for attending the CIB W099 conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2015.

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Currently under review:

  • Pirzadeh, P., Lingard, H., and Blismas, N. “Analysing secondary data to understand the socio-technical complexities of design decision making”. In Secondary Research Methods in the Built Environment. Book chapter submitted on 01 February 2020. 

Tung Pham

Title: The transfer of occupational health and safety training among Australian construction employees

Date: 2015-2020

Summary: Occupational health and safety (OHS) training has been recognised as a formal approach to promote OHS capabilities of construction employees. However, OHS training cannot lead to improved OHS performance if training transfer (i.e. the extent to which trainees utilise acquired skills and knowledge at the workplace) does not occur. Unfortunately, previous research suggests that OHS training is not effective in terms of training transfer. As an attempt to solve this problem, a mix-methods study was conducted to investigate the intention to transfer OHS training and identify factors promoting/ hindering training transfer among managerial and nonmanagerial construction employees. The results provided empirical evidence reflecting differences in intention to transfer OHS training among two groups of employees. Furthermore, various factors arising from OHS training programs and the work environment that affect training transfer were revealed. The findings are useful for training providers and construction employers to provide OHS training programs and the workplace that support employees’ application of OHS training content.

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Tung was one of three finalists in the WHS Science Sprint competition held at the 2020 National Work Health and Safety Colloquium – The Impact of Research in Sydney on 11 November 2020. His research investigated the effectiveness of work health and safety training and the application of trained skills and knowledge in managerial and non-managerial construction workers. The research indicated perception of construction workers on effective training design and delivery methods, and workplace factors affecting the likelihood that construction workers utilise what they have learned in the work setting.

Watch Tung’s video presentation:

Tung Pham - RMIT PhD student finalist in WHS Science Sprint Competition

Sarah Masood

Title: Factors impacting the psychological health of women in the construction industry

Date: 2020-2024

Summary: The percentage of women working in the male-dominated industries like construction has remained very low despite the problem being under discussion for a few decades. There are various reasons behind it including, but not limiting to, weak legislations, discriminatory practices in recruitment and career progression, a male-centric culture, inflexible nature of the industry, long work hours, work-life conflict and a stressful work environment. In an aggressive industry like construction, women find it difficult to adjust with their femininity and often adapt the masculine cultural style in order to ‘fit-in’ and retain their position. The lack of role models, mentors and support from supervisors and co-workers are additional mental setbacks, which along with a high vertical gender-segregation and lack of transparency in career progression can cause job insecurity and lack of belongingness among women. The research will focus on the impacts of various aspects of the masculine culture of construction industry on the psychological health on women. The findings can be useful in proposing a safer and healthy work environment for women and could also be a step towards the building of a family-friendly culture in construction.

Mohammad Sabbir Ahmed Shourav

Title: Work ability of construction workers in Australia

Date: 2020-ongoing

Summary: Work ability indicates workers’ capacity to carry out their work with regard to mental and health resources, and it is one of the crucial aspects of occupational health and safety. The doctorate research project aims to investigate the work ability of construction workers in Australia. Specifically, the research will identify the factors which significantly influence the work ability of construction workers of different age groups in Australia. A mixed methods approach will be adopted to conduct the research. It is expected that the research findings will inform the development of an industry-oriented intervention program that will help to improve the work ability of construction workers and ultimately improve the productivity of construction workforce in Australia.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer