Publications / 2020 Proceedings of the 37th ISARC, Kitakyushu, Japan

Using a Virtual Reality-based Experiment Environment to Examine Risk Habituation in Construction Safety

Namgyun Kim and Changbum Ryan Ahn
Pages 1176-1182 (2020 Proceedings of the 37th ISARC, Kitakyushu, Japan, ISBN 978-952-94-3634-7, ISSN 2413-5844)

A majority of safety accidents in construction workplaces stem from workers' unsafe behaviors. Such unsafe behaviors are often caused by "risk habituation," the tendency to underestimate a risk after previous repeated exposure to similar hazardous situations. Understanding the risk habituation process in construction is critical for intervening and preventing the unsafe behaviors that it causes, but the approaches adopted in previous studies, which are retrospective and self-evaluative, pose challenges to gaining an unbiased understanding of the factors affecting this habituation process. In this context, this study exploits virtual reality (VR) as an experimental tool to examine the risk habituation process in construction and demonstrates the validity of the approach. A VR model that engages a subject in a road reconstruction project is designed and developed, and then is used to repeatedly expose subjects to struck-by hazards and warning signals for such hazards. The results from the pilot experiment indicate that the developed VR model is effective in replicating and accelerating the risk habituation process, thereby allowing researchers to more expeditiously study the factors influencing risk habituation process.

Keywords: Construction safety; Risk habituation; Virtual reality; Unsafe behavior; Safety training