Toward improved construction health, safety, and ergonomics in South Africa: A working model for use by architectural designers



Architectural design model, Construction, Health, Safety, Ergonomics


The construction industry produces a high rate of accidents. Despite evidence that up to 50% of accidents can be avoided through mitigation of hazards and risks in the design phase of construction projects, architectural designers do not adequately engage in designing for construction health, safety, and ergonomics. The article reports on the development of an architectural design-oriented model toward a reduction of construction hazards and risks. The research intertwined a range of secondary data with four provisional studies undertaken in the Eastern Cape Province considered representative of South Africa, and involved quantitative and qualitative methodologies directed at architectural designers registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). These served to provide local insight and a line of structured questioning for use in the main study, which was positioned in the action research (AR) paradigm and used focus-group (FG) methodology to solicit vast qualitative data from SACAP-registered participants. Synthesis of the FG data with literature and the provisional studies gave rise to a provisional model comprising six main model components and a range of subcomponents. The provisional model was validated and refined. The evolved model includes a core model embedded in a greater process model, and implementation and use of the core model relies on appropriate knowledge of architectural designers. It is recommended that tertiary architectural education institutions and those involved in architectural CPD programmes take ‘upstream design ownership’ and use the model as a basis for designing and implementing appropriate education and training programmes.


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How to Cite

Goldswain, C. and Smallwood, J. (2015) “Toward improved construction health, safety, and ergonomics in South Africa: A working model for use by architectural designers”, Acta Structilia, 22(1), pp. 1-32. Available at: (Accessed: 7December2021).



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