Safety Communication Networks: Females in Small Work Crews
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Construction workers experience one of the highest rates of injuries and fatalities in the U.S. Communication is essential for construction safety. Recent research has shown that worker demographics affect the diffusion of safety knowledge in small field crews. Noting the lack of gender diversity among construction workers, this research studied how gender affects work crew safety communication and safety performance. The objective of this research was to analyze the relationships between worker gender and communication patterns in transportation construction work zones in Washington state by using Social Network Analysis (SNA). We hypothesized that work crews with both male and female members (a decrease in work crew homophily) would show different communication patterns and worse safety performance than crews without gender diversity. The data showed that females have significantly (p<0.05) lower amounts of in-degree (incoming ties) and in-closeness (distance for information to travel) according to a Mann-Whitney test than the males in the mixed-gender crews. Furthermore, mixed-gender crews had a less than average formal density and higher than average informal density than the all-male crews. Practically speaking, this research showed that mixed-gender work crews have different safety communication patterns than homogenous male crews. Further research is needed to determine whether these differences are widespread, how females affect the patterns, and how these differences affect safety performance.