School of Property, Construction & Project Management
In July 2016, Dr David Oswald joined the RMIT School of Property, Construction and Project Management as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the Centre for Construction Work Health and Safety Research (CCWHSR).
Dr Oswald joins RMIT from the University of Edinburgh where he completed a Master of Engineering specialising in structural engineering with fire safety.
Prompted by a continued interest in the area of safety and human behaviour, in 2012 he commenced a PhD, ‘Investigating unsafe acts on a large multinational construction project,’ which he completed in May 2016. Through his PhD studies, Dr Oswald investigated the circumstances that led to the unsafe acts that occurred on a UK construction project worth in excess of $2 billion AUD.
Adopting a qualitative ethnographic research methodology, this research included observations of stakeholders’ behaviours across a number of settings for three years. He identified two key themes that his research showed were likely to play a key role in the unsafe behaviours occurring: tight financial budgets and perceived compensation culture.
The findings of his PhD research, which helped to increase understanding of the complex nature of unsafe acts and their potential causes, have led to significant knowledge gains in safety performance in the construction industry.
Dr Oswald will initially be working on a research project examining the impact of supervisors’ and site managers’ behaviour on work health and safety in the construction industry. With plans to collaborate on numerous other projects with Centre colleagues, Dr Oswald brings highly valued research expertise in the area of health and safety, and a proven track record in ethnographic research methods–an approach rarely utilised in construction management research.
Dr Oswald was the recipient of the Best Paper Award at the CIB W099 International Health and Safety Conference in ‘Achieving Sustainable Construction Health and Safety’ (Lund, Sweden) in 2014.
Along with his long-standing research collaborations with both leading industrial and academic institutions, Dr Oswald is an ideal fit for the CCWHSR, which continues to focus on providing robust, industry-relevant and impactful research to improve the work health and safety of construction workers.
Authors: Janice Wong, James Harley and David Oswald