Examining the Relationship between Construction Workers' Visual Attention and Situation Awareness under Fall and Tripping Hazard Conditions: Using Mobile Eye Tracking

Sogand Hasanzadeh, Behzad Esmaeili, Michael D. Dodd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


The risk of major occupational accidents involving tripping hazards is commonly underestimated with a large number of studies having been conducted to better understand variables that affect situation awareness: the ability to detect, perceive, and comprehend constantly evolving surroundings. An important property that affects situation awareness is the limited capacity of the attentional system. To maintain situation awareness while exposed to tripping hazards, a worker needs to obtain feedforward information about hazards, detect immediate tripping hazards, and visually scan surroundings for any potential environmental hazards. Despite the importance of situation awareness, its relationship with attention remains unknown in the construction industry. To fill this theoretical knowledge gap, this study examines differences in attentional allocation between workers with low and high situation awareness levels while exposed to tripping hazards in a real construction site. Participants were exposed to tripping hazards on a real jobsite while walking along a path in the presence of other workers. Situation awareness was measured using the situation awareness rating technique, and subjects' eye movements were tracked as direct measures of attention via a wearable mobile eye tracker. Investigating the attentional distribution of subjects by examining fixation-count heat maps and scan paths revealed that as workers with higher situation awareness walked, they periodically looked down and scanned ahead to remain fully aware of the environment and its associated hazards. Furthermore, this study quantitatively compared the differences between the eye-tracking metrics of worker with different situation awareness levels (low versus high) using permutation simulation. The results of the statistical analysis indicate that subjects did not allocate their attention equally to all hazardous areas of interest, and these differences in attentional distribution were modulated by the workers' level of situation awareness. This study advances theory by presenting one of the first attempts to use mobile eye-tracking technology to examine the role of cognitive processes (i.e., attention) in human error (i.e., failure to identify a hazard) and occupational accidents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04018060
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Attention
  • Cognitive ability
  • Construction safety
  • Eye tracking
  • Hazard identification
  • Situation awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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