Impact of the ‘Contributing Factors in Construction Accidents’ (ConCA) Model

  • Eleanor HarveyEmail author
  • Patrick Waterson
  • Andrew Dainty
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 824)


In 2005 the ‘Contributing factors in Construction Accidents’ framework (ConCA) introduced a sociotechnical systems approach to risk management in construction. ConCA demonstrated the value of exploring distal factors and identifying underlying or latent causes: It promoted an understanding of construction accidents as systemic accidents and challenged an industry-wide culture of blaming frontline workers. A decade later the original article has been cited by research from 37 countries, shaping inquiries and initiatives to improve safety in both the UK and Australia. But to what extent has systems thinking infiltrated practitioners and policy-makers’ views? Despite broader views of contributing factors, many practitioners still view workers in a negative light, holding them responsible for accidents because of complacency, cynicism about safety, or a high-tolerance for risk. This paper evaluates the impact of the ConCA framework, updates it, and develops our understanding of the relationships between immediate circumstances and distal factors, as seen by an expert panel of participants (n = 32). A more in-depth ‘ConCA+’ framework is proposed. It challenges the negative perceptions of workers, and supports shifting the emphasis of risk management away from worker behaviors and towards resolving wider systemic issues. New directions are proposed which show how knowledge management, job design, technological innovation, empowerment and collaboration should be the focus of future work.


Construction Occupational safety Systems 


  1. 1.
    HSE (2014) Health and Safety in Construction in Great Britain 2014Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    House of Commons (2015) Blacklisting in employment: final report. LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Marsh T (2017) A definitive guide to behavioural safety. Routledge, AbingdonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Harvey E, Waterson P, Dainty ARJ (2015) Comparing safety intelligence in air traffic management and construction: a conceptual comparison. In: Proceedings 31st Annual ARCOM Conference, 7–9 September, 2015, pp. 1115–1124Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Guldenmund FW (2010) (Mis)understanding safety culture and its relationship to safety management. Risk Anal 30(10):1466–1480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Long R (2012) For the love of zero. Scotoma Press, KambahGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) Illnesses, injuries and fatalities. Accessed 22 Mar 2017
  8. 8.
    Haslam RA, Hide SA, Gibb AGF, Gyi DE, Pavitt T, Atkinson S, Duff AR (2005) Contributing factors in construction accidents. Appl Ergon 36(4):401–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Reason J (2000) Human error: models and management. Br Med J 320:768–770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Harvey EJ, Waterson P, Dainty ARJ. Beyond ConCA: Rethinking causality and construction accidents. Appl Ergon Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Donaghy R (2009) One death is too many: inquiry into the underlying causes of construction fatal accidents, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Brace C, Gibb AG, Pendlebury M, Bust P (2009) Phase 2 Report: Health and safety in the construction industry: underlying causes of construction fatal accidents – External research, London, UK Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bust P, Gibb A, Dainty A, Cheyne A, Hartley R, Glover J, Finneran A, Haslam R, Waterson P (2017) Health and safety knowledge in networked organisations. In: Frost S, Dingwall R (eds) Health and safety in a changing world. Routledge, Abingdon, pp 85–100Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Parker SK, Van den Broeck A, Holman D (2017) Work design influences: a synthesis of multilevel factors that affect the design of jobs. Acad Manag Ann 11(1)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Olympic Delivery Authority (2011) Learning Legacy: Lessons Learned from the London 2012 Construction Project, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Harvey EJ, Waterson P, Dainty ARJ (2016) Applying HRO and resilience engineering to construction: barriers and opportunities. Saf SciGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Emuze F, Smallwood J (2018) Valuing people in construction. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hollangel E (2014) Safety-I and Safety-II: the past and future of safety management. Ashgate Publishing Limited, FarnhamGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Factors and Complex Systems Research GroupLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.School of Architecture, Building and Civil EngineeringLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

Personalised recommendations