Houston, we have a problem! Understanding the tensions between quality and safety in construction

Peter E.D. Love*, Jim Smith, Fran Ackermann, Zahir Irani, Weili Fang, Hanbin Luo, Lieyun Ding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we address the following research question: How can psychological safety be used to address the tensions that reside with quality and safety in projects and simultaneously lessen the manifestation of errors? To address this question, we use a vignette to examine the actions before, during and after a major quality event that resulted in serious safety incidents occurring. We demonstrate that unsafe behaviours materializing in projects often stem from multifaceted actions that can be usually traced back to errors (and violations) where rework was required. We show that the transition from error prevention to error management culture can seamlessly transpire with subtle changes to practice. We conclude by suggesting that there is a need to further examine how error management and psychological safety can be enacted to simultaneously improve both quality and safety outcomes in projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1354-1365
Number of pages12
JournalProduction Planning and Control
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019


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