Differences in Workers' Safety Behavior by Project Size and Risk Level of Work in South Korea

Hyunho Jung, Wonkyoung Seo, Youngcheol Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unsafe behavior is the main cause of accidents in the construction industry. Considering the fact that accidents occur more frequently in small projects and on more hazardous works, this study tests the hypotheses that workers' safety behavior varies (1) with project size, and (2) with the risk level of work. Survey data were collected from a total of 313 construction workers at 21 sites using questionnaires, and the data were analyzed using a series of factor analyses and structural equation modeling. Multigroup factor analysis revealed that the mean safety behavior value for the workers in large projects was greater than that for the workers in small projects, with a statistically significant difference. This indicates that large-project workers tend to behave more safely than small-project workers. However, no statistically significant difference was found for the workers' safety behavior with regards to the risk level of work. In addition, the differences in the impacts of three factors (management commitment, supervisor's role, and workers' perception of safety) on safety behavior depending on the project size and risk level of work were investigated using multigroup structural equation modeling. Management commitment had the greatest impact on workers' safety behavior in large projects, whereas workers' perception of safety had the greatest impact in small projects. Regarding the risk level, management commitment had the greatest impact on safety behavior with low-risk work, and workers' perception of safety had the greatest impact with high-risk work. These results suggest that management commitment is more important to control worker's safety behavior to prevent accidents for large projects and low-risk works, whereas the workers' safety perception is more important to prevent accidents for small projects and high-risk works. This study provides a new theoretical basis for explaining the variations in workers' safety behavior group to group, and facilitates the development of future safety policies and systems. This study also contributes to the establishment of strategic planning and the justification for spending relevant resources to improve workers' safety behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04023028
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management - ASCE
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


  • Multigroup analysis
  • Safe behavior
  • Safety
  • Structural equation modeling


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