A Sustainable and Healthy Work Environment in Construction Industry 4.0

A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309). This special issue belongs to the section "Construction Management, and Computers & Digitization".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2024 | Viewed by 7833

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Architecture & Built Environment, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane 4001, Australia
Interests: construction safety and health; building information modelling education; mental health; gender diversity; construction industry development; professional ethics

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Guest Editor
Building & Construction Management, School of Design and the Built Environment, University of Canberra, Kirinari St., Bruce, ACT 2601, Australia
Interests: occupational health and safety; workforce planning; industry 4.0; Internet of Things (IoT)
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Future of Work Institute, Curtin University, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia
Interests: the future of work in construction management; human systems in data science; health, safety and well-being; workforce skills

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to showcase research on creating a sustainable and healthy work environment by adopting construction industry 4.0 innovations. Digitalization and its ongoing development is fundamentally transforming the nature of work and traditional construction practices. This encompasses various aspects, such as the redesign of work, the composition of teams, and the evolving skill sets required in the construction industry, among others. A comprehensive understanding of current technological adoption in the construction industry for a sustainable work environment would help identify the benefits, challenges, and gaps for future workforce development. The shift towards a sustainable work environment provides an opportunity to consider good work designs to reduce the physical and psychosocial risks in the workplace and improve safety, health, and wellbeing of the construction workforce.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  1. The integration of technologies in construction workplaces;
  2. The digitalisation and automation of work processes;
  3. The impacts of smart construction sites on worker safety, productivity, and efficiency;
  4. The utilisation of artificial intelligence and machine learning for enhancing construction workplace performance;
  5. Human–computer interactions and augmented reality applications in construction organisational settings;
  6. Data-driven decision making and analytics for improved construction management;
  7. Challenges and opportunities in transitioning to a sustainable work environment in construction organisations;
  8. Workforce implications and future trends in the era of digital transformation;
  9. Safety, health, and well-being of the construction workforce;
  10. Sustainable workforce training and development;
  11. Work design and psychosocial risks in construction.

Dr. Carol K.H. Hon
Dr. Hamed Golzad
Dr. Keyao (Eden) Li
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Buildings is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • construction industry 4.0
  • sustainable work environment
  • healthy construction workforce
  • work design
  • mental health and well-being
  • workforce future development
  • psychosoical risks
  • training and upskilling
  • safety, health, and productivity

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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11 pages, 16208 KiB  
Article
Material Metabolism: Reducing Risk through Flexible Formwork Substitution
by Mike Louw, Sally Farrah, Max Maxwell and Sam Tomkins
Buildings 2024, 14(4), 978; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14040978 - 02 Apr 2024
Viewed by 391
Abstract
For this special issue, sustainability and safety are discussed through the tropes of both material and work process substitution. As an architecture and industrial design team, we examine the potential of William McDonough’s and Michael Braungart’s “cradle to cradle” material methodology, and David [...] Read more.
For this special issue, sustainability and safety are discussed through the tropes of both material and work process substitution. As an architecture and industrial design team, we examine the potential of William McDonough’s and Michael Braungart’s “cradle to cradle” material methodology, and David Pye’s “the workmanship of certainty” as relevant to the construction industry. Locating and revisiting the tenets of Gottfried Semper’s Stoffwechseltheorie, alongside contemporary critiques, demonstrates that if historically, material and technique substitution led to architectural innovation, the same conditions exist today. To demonstrate a contemporary Stoffwechsel (material substitution) a formwork prototype was constructed at the University of Canberra’s Workshop 7, by substituting timber with plastic, and 3D-printing the formwork. This prototype demonstrates a type of “technical nutrient” that is both recyclable as plastic, and reusable as formwork. This reveals the potential of substituting materials and processes not only to achieve material recovery, but rather, aiming for material recycling, reuse, or upcycling, therefore reducing socio-environmental risks in construction. Full article
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16 pages, 2429 KiB  
Article
A BIM-Based Approach for Assessing Occupational Health Risks in a Building Construction Project
by Apurva Jangam, Daniel Cheriyan and Jae-Ho Choi
Buildings 2024, 14(2), 476; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14020476 - 08 Feb 2024
Viewed by 721
Abstract
Construction work sites and the surrounding built environments are notable contributors to atmosphere dust particulate matter (PM) emissions. PM produced in construction processes contain a range of chemically hazardous substances, posing significant health risks (HR) to individuals. As such, the evaluation of occupational [...] Read more.
Construction work sites and the surrounding built environments are notable contributors to atmosphere dust particulate matter (PM) emissions. PM produced in construction processes contain a range of chemically hazardous substances, posing significant health risks (HR) to individuals. As such, the evaluation of occupational HR in construction has become a focal point of interest internationally. Initiated in the early 2000s, there has been a growing demand within the construction research community for the creation of a unified PM database that encapsulates a wide array of construction activities. Previous studies have endeavored to establish a PM database for various construction contexts, yet they have fallen short in thoroughly addressing the diversity of construction materials and the levels of toxic substances (TS) within the PM. This research introduced a comprehensive PM and TS dataset and conducted a case study to measure the HR associated with diverse construction processes. This was accomplished by implementing a semi-automated Building Information Modeling (BIM) version 2020-based plugin, which streamlines the assessment of occupational HR in construction projects. This system provides construction supervisors with a tool to visually assess the HR of daily operations, thereby facilitating the adoption of preemptive measures to protect the health of construction workers. Full article
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18 pages, 602 KiB  
Article
The Relationship between BIM Application and Project Sustainability Performance: Mediation Role of Green Innovation and Moderating Role of Institutional Pressures
by Ming Zhang, Lijun Fan, Yongmin Liu, Sixiang Zhang and Dalin Zeng
Buildings 2023, 13(12), 3126; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13123126 - 17 Dec 2023
Viewed by 974
Abstract
Project sustainability has become a research hotspot in the construction industry and a crucial driving force for the successful delivery of projects. How enterprises can improve project sustainability performance and realize sustainable development by applying BIM has become an important research topic. In [...] Read more.
Project sustainability has become a research hotspot in the construction industry and a crucial driving force for the successful delivery of projects. How enterprises can improve project sustainability performance and realize sustainable development by applying BIM has become an important research topic. In this study, based on the resource-based view and institutional theory, a relationship model of BIM application affecting project sustainability performance is constructed, and data from 449 questionnaires with electric power construction industry practitioners obtained by the two-stage data collection method are used to explore the relationship between BIM application and project sustainability performance, and to investigate the mediating role of green innovation and the moderating role of institutional pressures. The study found that: (1) BIM application has a significant positive impact on project sustainability performance; (2) BIM application has a significant positive predictive effect on green innovation, and green innovation plays a mediating role in the relationship between BIM application and project sustainability performance; and (3) under a high degree of institutional pressures, the positive relationship between BIM application and green innovation is strengthened, and, in this case, the mediating role of green innovation is enhanced. The study results help to expand the theoretical analysis of the relationship between BIM application and project sustainability performance and provide practical guidance for improving project sustainability. Finally, the data in this study only come from the power construction industry and do not differentiate between the types of green innovations, and further research could be conducted on these two aspects in the future. Full article
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22 pages, 1282 KiB  
Article
Moderating Effects of Individual Learning Ability and Resilient Safety Culture on the Relationship between the Educational Level and Safety Performance of Construction Workers
by Albert P. C. Chan, Junfeng Guan, Tracy N. Y. Choi and Yang Yang
Buildings 2023, 13(12), 3026; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13123026 - 05 Dec 2023
Viewed by 859
Abstract
Having a higher educational level has been proposed to reduce workers’ unsafe behavior. It remains unclear whether the improvement in safety performance can be enhanced by workers with higher education levels, an individual’s learning ability, and a resilient safety culture. This study aims [...] Read more.
Having a higher educational level has been proposed to reduce workers’ unsafe behavior. It remains unclear whether the improvement in safety performance can be enhanced by workers with higher education levels, an individual’s learning ability, and a resilient safety culture. This study aims to examine the moderating effects of individual learning ability and resilient safety culture on the relationship between workers’ educational level and safety performance. A questionnaire survey was conducted to assess the education level, resilience safety culture, safety learning ability, and safety performance of workers. The results indicated that the educational level of construction workers has a significant positive impact on safety performance. They confirmed that an individual’s learning ability and a resilient safety culture have a positive moderating effect. This study supports the crucial relationship between worker education levels and safety performance. Thus, organizations and government entities can leverage this understanding to promote worker engagement in training programs and extend educational support. The study underscores the pivotal role of a resilient safety culture in bolstering the impact of worker educational level on safety performance. Finally, the study acknowledges the influence of an individual’s learning ability on safety performance. Integrating educational levels with individual learning abilities can facilitate the development of targeted strategies to improve safety performance. Full article
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18 pages, 2190 KiB  
Article
Managing Disputes for a Sustainable Construction: A Perspective of Settlement Facilitating Elements in Negotiations
by Sen Lin, Keyao Li and Saion Cheung
Buildings 2023, 13(10), 2578; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13102578 - 12 Oct 2023
Viewed by 766
Abstract
Construction 4.0 presents a multitude of opportunities; however, it also increases the chance of disputes. Efficient dispute management contributes to the sustainable production of construction works. Enhancing negotiation management and negotiators’ settlement ability is valuable, given that negotiation is recognized as the most [...] Read more.
Construction 4.0 presents a multitude of opportunities; however, it also increases the chance of disputes. Efficient dispute management contributes to the sustainable production of construction works. Enhancing negotiation management and negotiators’ settlement ability is valuable, given that negotiation is recognized as the most effective dispute resolution method. This study explores negotiation settlement by identifying negotiators’ settlement facilitating elements in construction dispute negotiation (CDN). A purposive literature review identified six key elements, naming preparation, integration, goodwill, continuity, commitment, and self-efficacy. With data collected from experienced construction dispute negotiators, the partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) results confirmed the significance of these elements. Accordingly, recommendations for negotiators include (i) technique (i.e., good preparation and applying integrative tactics); (ii) interaction (i.e., showing goodwill and relationship maintenance); and (iii) attitude (i.e., commitment to negotiate and being confident) if the negotiation settlement is desired. Management can implement these recommendations in their training manual to cultivate negotiators’ problem solving and settlement-oriented mindset. Negotiators can also review their behaviors throughout the negotiations and make timely adjustments as deemed necessary. Reaching an amicable negotiated settlement would not only save resources, preserving business relationships is of equal importance for a sustainable construction industry. Full article
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24 pages, 1348 KiB  
Article
Perceptive Biases in Construction Mediation: Evidence and Application of Artificial Intelligence
by Nan Cao, Sai-On Cheung and Keyao Li
Buildings 2023, 13(10), 2460; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13102460 - 27 Sep 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1181
Abstract
In light of advancements in big data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI), there are emerging opportunities to harness these technologies to address perceptive biases. This study examines the potential perceptive biases that may arise when construction mediation is quasi-imposed on the disputing parties. [...] Read more.
In light of advancements in big data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI), there are emerging opportunities to harness these technologies to address perceptive biases. This study examines the potential perceptive biases that may arise when construction mediation is quasi-imposed on the disputing parties. This can happen when mediation attempts are stipulated in the construction contract or court-directed. It is argued that, under such circumstances, a negative perception might arise over whether a bona fide mediation can be realised. Concerns include the fairness and timeliness of the process, as well as the practice of opportunistic mediating behaviours. With data collected from practising construction mediation practitioners in Hong Kong, the constructs of Perceptions of Bona Fide Mediation, Quasi-Imposition, and Positive Mediation Outcomes were first developed. Applying partial least square structural equation modelling to the relationship frameworks of the constructs, it was found that quasi-imposition is not as damaging as envisaged as far as having a bona fide mediation and attaining positive mediation outcomes are concerned. Moreover, a negative perception of the fairness and timeliness of the quasi-imposed mediation would jeopardise the integrity of a bona fide mediation. In this regard, utilizing NLP and machine learning algorithms offers a pioneering AI-driven approach to informing mediating parties, as well as reminding mediators to uphold the fairness and timeliness of the process for the purposes of reaching positive mediation outcomes. Full article
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Review

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20 pages, 1694 KiB  
Review
Mental Health Causation in the Construction Industry: A Systematic Review Employing a Psychological Safety Climate Model
by Hamed Golzad, Atefeh Teimoory, Seyed Javid Mousavi, Aya Bayramova and David J. Edwards
Buildings 2023, 13(10), 2442; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13102442 - 26 Sep 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2055
Abstract
The construction industry has a lamentable reputation for having a high prevalence of suicides and mental health (MH) problems. Several government and academic reports have identified that construction workers are at a far higher risk of MH disorders than workers in other industrial [...] Read more.
The construction industry has a lamentable reputation for having a high prevalence of suicides and mental health (MH) problems. Several government and academic reports have identified that construction workers are at a far higher risk of MH disorders than workers in other industrial sectors. While studies on construction workers’ MH have significantly increased in recent years, a systematic review of the potential causes of MH problems in the industry has hitherto eluded construction researchers. This study fills this ominous knowledge gap by conducting a realist systematic review of the literature published since 2003. The review conducted adopts the psychological safety climate model of PSC-12 to create a comprehensive list of MH causation (sourced from a rich literature synthesis) as a precursor to developing a theoretical model that identifies MH causations affecting distinct psychological safety climates within the industry. Emergent findings identify 43 MH causation factors with high job demand as the most significant contributor, followed by interpersonal relationships, low job control, low job support and physical status. In addition, it is found that organisation participation factors have been the major areas of focus, while management commitment and management priority are under-researched areas. Moreover, research gaps within the four dimensions of the PCS-12 model were explored to distinguish new potential research areas to address the knowledge gaps observed. In practical terms, the study collates and presents a comprehensive theoretical model of MH causations, providing a concise source of practical knowledge for practitioners. Full article
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