Diffusion of Safety innovations in the construction industry

Behzad Esmaeili, Matthew R. Hallowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Safety performance in the construction industry has improved significantly in the past four decades. This improvement has been attributed in part to the increased implementation of injury prevention strategies. Although the relative effectiveness of these strategies has been studied in previous research, there has been no attempt to evaluate their diffusion. To address this gap in knowledge, 12 highly effective administrative safety innovations were identified in literature, and 58 firms were interviewed to investigate their adoption rate. The diffusion patterns of the identified safety innovations were explored using four common innovation diffusion models: the internal, external, Bass, and Gompetz. The findings indicate that the internal and Bass models have the highest explanatory power and that internal factors are the most influential factors in adoption of safety innovations by construction firms. It was also found that project-specific training and safety meetings (91%), frequent worksite inspections (91%), and safety and health orientation and training (90%) are the three most commonly adopted safety innovations, and employment of a site safety manager (62%), subcontractor selection and management (64%), and substance abuse programs (69%) were the three innovations most infrequently implemented. The implication of the findings is that the construction industry has now reached saturation with respect to traditional injury prevention strategies and new safety innovations are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-963
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffusion
  • Safety
  • Safety management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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