Studying Prevention through Design:Sociology Meets Civil Engineering
This research focuses on attitudes in the construction industry toward “Prevention through Design” (PtD). PtD is a simple, intuitive but --in the United States--surprisingly controversial concept for reducing hazards and preventing worker injuries and fatalities during the construction process. It is so intuitive, even a sociologist can understand it! US opposition to the idea of regulating PtD processes in the industry stands in stark contrast to countries like Australia and Great Britain, where its inclusion in construction processes is mandated by law. So what’s the deal in the US? Our project utilized both quantitative and qualitative social research methods to study US construction industry attitudes towards, and perceptions of barriers to, the diffusion of PtD. We examined how various actors and agents in the construction industry (building owners, owner employees, architects, engineers, and designers) perceive PtD, fielding both an industry-wide survey and conducting detailed ethnographic case studies of owner organizations. Our presentation will cover not only our results but the benefit of collaboration on this topic from both our disciplinary perspectives. Despite surprisingly supportive responses about PtD from those in the industry who were surveyed and interviewed, reviewer comments during the journal peer review process illustrate how controversial in the civil engineering community PtD remains.