Effect of Time Pressure and Cognitive Demand on Line Workers’ Risk-Taking Behaviors: Assessment of Neuro-Psychophysiological Responses in a Mixed-Reality Environment
Recent research suggests construction workers fall prey to the cognitive biases of risk compensation, wherein workers offset safety improvements by taking more risks. Parallel previous literature indicates that time pressure and mental load may increase workers’ arousal and stress. However, it is unclear whether time, productivity, and/or cognitive demands can worsen risk compensation behaviors by stimulating workers to make riskier decisions to complete tasks faster. Combining a multi-modal mixed-reality environment with wearable neuro-psychophysiological sensors, this study examines changes in safety and task performance for high-risk electrical-line tasks simulated under time/performance pressure and cognitive demand. The results show risk-compensation is in play as subjects over-rely on safety technologies and maintain their risk perception even while undertaking more risks to adapt to increased time pressure and/or cognitive demand. This paper contributes to body of knowledge by affecting safety-training approaches and the controls needed when providing workers with safety protection and new technological advances.