Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Gabriel B. Dadi

Second Advisor

Dr. William F. Maloney


Construction sites are dangerous work environments. One traditional assumption prevails in the construction industry that construction safety should be the sole responsibility of the contractor. However, some safety researchers gradually begin to challenge this assumption. The elementary research in this field try to validate the existence of relationship of the owner’s practices and safety performance, which indicates that the involvements of the owner have a positive impact on improvement of safety performance. Therefore, the owner can and should take a responsibility of the project safety. Some subsequent research focus on collecting and summarizing the best safety practices and procedures of the owner. Other research efforts are directed to laying out rules or principles for the owner to play a positive role in construction safety. However, relevant issues are still under-researched. Rare research is undertaken to quantify the impacts of the owner practices and procedures on safety performance.

To explore and improve the involvement of the owner in the safety issues, the research in this dissertation develops a systematic and effective model to rate the impacts of the owner practices and procedures on project safety. The model is entitled the Owner’s Role Rating Model (ORRM), which can yield a score to evaluate the owner’s safety performance. Operational Excellence (OE) will be embedded into the establishment to enhance the effectiveness, and also serves as the fundamental theory. OE is borrowed from the chemical processing industry. OE can be defined as doing the right thing, the right way, every time – even when no one is watching. The essence of OE is that culture drives behavior and behavior sustains culture. Good Operational Excellence results in effective reinforcement of appropriate safety systems, and significantly reduces the rate of unsafe behaviors (AIChE, 2011). ORRM will be structured as a Critical to Safety (CTS) Tree beginning with the owner’s role in safety. The model will have four components: Safety Driver, CTS, Critical to Expectations (CTE) and Specification/Measurement (S/M). Through an extensive literature review, comprehensive lists of CTS and CTE elements are developed. CTE-specific S/Ms are also developed for measurement. Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is utilized to obtain weights of CTS elements, which aims to quantify the relative importance of CTS elements. An empirical validation of 20 projects is conducted by using ORRM to verify its effectiveness and efficiency. ORRM could be used to assess the degree of the owner’s involvement in the safety process, and present a final score to evaluate owner’s overall performance in safety management. Also, the result of evaluation can indicate the direction for owners to improve their performance. ORRM will also serve as a prototype that can be used for the similar studies in the future.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)