June 9, 2020

ELECTRI International has released its most recent Early Career Award study: DEVELOPING A PROTOCOL FOR ON-SITE MEASUREMENTS OF SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.

As part of its agenda to provide research and education for the electrical construction industry, the ELECTRI Council recognized that electrical accidents (shocks, burns and arc blasts) can result in injuries that cause severe tissue damage and/or have an alarmingly high 15% mortality rate. For the long-term sustainability of the EC industry, ELECTRI knew it would be critical to develop and deploy resources that allow management to assess safety performance proactively and identify critical gaps to develop targeted interventions.

Situational awareness, a popular concept in human factors engineering, measures an individual’s ability to interact with a highly-complex environment and process all relevant information actively to guide decisions and subsequent actions. Currently, construction workers across all trades are able to identify a maximum of 45% of the hazards in their environment. There is also preliminary evidence suggesting that workers’ perceptions and assessments of risk can be skewed by their psychological status as well.

From an electrical construction safety standpoint, ELECTRI’s objective was to demonstrated how the presence of situational awareness in a high-risk occupational environment can help mitigate factors that impact accidents and fatalities. To work safely, workers need to have high situational awareness —  the ability not only to detect and classify hazards accurately, assess risk, and project potential outcomes, but also to understand the dynamic nature of their work environment when making safety-related decisions. 

ELECTRI commissioned Assistant Professor Siddharth Bhandari, Civil and Construction Engineering Department, Western Michigan University, to collect and analyze data submitted by workers across the country and create a Situational Awareness Assessment Tool for the electrical industry.  This tool takes a holistic outlook towards safety performance and examines how workers process and interact with all relevant safety information in their work environment. Using the Assessment Tool can provide impetus to the business units within an organization to develop strategically-targeted training interventions that yield the highest return on investment. The Assessment Tool will serve as a feasible, accurate, and reliable protocol to measure the situational awareness and human factors performance of construction workers.

The complete report and sample Situational Awareness Assessment Tool can be downloaded from ELECTRI International here.