Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil Engineering

Major Professor

Islam El-Adaway

Committee Members

Russel Zaretzki, John Michael Hathaway, Qiang He


The construction industry has historically suffered from high frequency and severity of accidents, making safety a major concern for all associated stakeholders. To improve safety performance, leading safety indicators have emerged as a more effective alternative to the traditional lagging indicators measured after the occurrence of an incident or accident. These are ex ante assessment of construction behaviors and processes to proactively predict safety breaches.

Prior research has defined and assessed leading safety indicators, but has not yet sufficiently understood their actual current application either at the local and/or regional levels. To this end, this research aims to study, define, evaluate and provide guidance in relation to utilizing leading safety indicators in Tennessee. The research utilizes an interdependent research methodology. Based on a comprehensive literature review, an industry questionnaire was developed targeting construction professionals in Middle and East Tennessee. The results of the questionnaires were analyzed through different statistical analysis techniques including reliability measures, measures of central tendency and variability, correlations, normality, and comparisons of means.

The results of the survey, received from professionals with collective experience of over 600 years, showed that 66.7% of the firms investigated had an instituted system of leading indicators. Firms with no use or awareness of an instituted system still applied concepts similar to leading indicators. Also, it was revealed that among the 78 indicators of the survey, only 48 were highly utilized by the responding firms. The most popular indicators - used by over 80% of respondents - were related to Housekeeping, use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), and Substance Abuse Programs. On the other hand, the least popular indicators were associated with contractual safety obligations, feedback stemming from safety meetings, and perceptions and evaluations of reporting systems. Larger companies were more likely to use passive leading indicators related to policymaking and strategic programs compared to smaller companies. Pursuant to the findings of this research, it is advisable to repeat similar studies at other local and regional areas across the nation to assess similarities and differences in implementation. This will help in developing effective and efficient proactive strategies for a zero-accident construction industry.

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