A Structural Equation Modeling Approach to Studying the Relationships among Safety Investment, Construction Employees’ Safety Cognition, and Behavioral Performance

Yu Han, Jie Li, Xiulan Cao, Ruoyu (Roy) Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study aimed to investigate the internal relationships between safety investments and construction employees’ behavioral performance with safety cognition as the mediating factor. A comprehensive methodology was adopted, including theoretical modeling of safety investments, questionnaire survey, and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). In the theoretical model, four factors (i.e., personal protection equipment (PPE), safety education, insurance purchased for site employees, and safety incentives) were adopted as safety investment categories. These four categories were studied of their correlation to the overall safety investment, which was tested of its contribution to employees’ behavioral safety performance in both direct and indirect ways. Indirectly, safety cognition was introduced as a mediator to bridge safety investments and behavioral performance. A questionnaire consisting of 28 indicators was adopted to describe safety investment, safety cognition, and behavioral performance. A random sampling approach and the top-down method were implemented to recruit construction site employees from the south-eastern region of China. The follow-up SEM analysis revealed that all the four investment categories positively contributed to the overall safety investment, which was found significantly correlated to employees’ safety cognition and behavioral performance. Safety incentive was identified as the most significant factor contributing to the overall investment. The current study extends prior studies of safety investments by adopting a quantitative approach from employees’ perspective. It provides insights for construction employers regarding how safety investments could affect behavioral performance. Employers are suggested to balance the tangible (e.g., incentive) and intangible (e.g., safety insurance) investment categories. This study also contributes to establishing the internal links among safety investments, safety cognition, and behavioral safety performance. Based on the current findings, future work could investigate how to optimize safety investments to achieve higher behavioral performance. The current study based in China could be applied in a different geographic context by testing the correlations between safety investments and behavioral safety performance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jan 2020


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