Spatial Exposure to Dynamic Safety Hazards in Construction Sites through 360-Degree Augmented Panoramas: Ecological Validity in Safety Research
Given the dynamic and complex nature of the construction industry, maintaining situation awareness at job sites is critical. To react properly, workers must identify dynamic safety hazards within the scene. The majority of studies assessing construction workers’ situation awareness have utilized static images, virtual reality, and other types of simulation methods, but questions remain as to whether these formats are able to capture and monitor workers’ naturalistic behaviors and hazard identification abilities. To identify whether the format of hazardous stimuli (i.e., static, image-based vs. dynamic, and video-based formats) impact workers’ subjective and objective hazard identification and situation awareness metrics, this study developed 23 safety hazard scenarios utilizing state-of-the-art augmented 360° panoramas and then tracked differences in workers’ visual search patterns and hazard identification abilities using eye-tracking technology. The workers’ cognitive responses, evidenced by their eye movements, showed that workers had significantly varied cognitive processes and abilities depending on the format of stimuli: Workers with lower hazard identification skills were more likely to miss hazards in a dynamic environment. This result suggests that the experimental setting should be carefully designed to determine construction workers’ natural cognitive process.