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The influence of architectural designers on construction ergonomics

J Smallwood


Relative to other industries in South Africa and construction industries world wide, the construction process generates a disproportionate number of fatalities, injuries and disease and both the direct and indirect costs contribute to the cumulative cost of construction.

Designers influence construction ergonomics directly and indirectly. The direct influence is as a result of design, details and method of fixing, and depending upon the type of procurement system, supervisory and administrative interventions. The indirect influence is as a result of the type of procurement system used, pre-qualification, project time, partnering and the facilitating of pre-planning.

The purpose of the paper was to present the results of a study conducted among architectural practices in South Africa to determine their perceptions and practices relative to construction ergonomics. The following constitute the salient findings. Cost, quality, and time are more important to architectural practices than construction ergonomics and project health and safety (H&S). Ergonomics during the user phase is more important to architectural practices than the other phases. A range of design related aspects impact on construction ergonomics. To a degree, construction ergonomics is considered on most design, procurement and construction occasions by architectural practices. Experience predominates in terms of the means by which ergonomics knowledge was acquired. A range of aspects have the potential to contribute to an improvement in knowledge and the application of construction ergonomics.

The paper concludes that architectural designers contribute to construction ergonomics, but that there is potential for and a clear need for enhanced contributions. Recommendations include the inclusion of construction ergonomics in architectural designer tertiary education and continuing professional development (CPD).

Keywords: architectural designers, construction, ergonomics

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1010-2728