An exploratory study of safety communication networks of ethnic minority crews in the Hong Kong construction industry

Sainan Lyu, Carol K.H. Hon, Albert P.C. Chan, Arshad Ali Javed, Rita Peihua Zhang, Francis K.W. Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Previous studies have highlighted that communication barrier was one of the major safety problems faced by ethnic minority (EM) workers. This study aims to model the predominant safety communication networks of EM crews and explore the relationships among safety communication networks, individual attributes, safety climate, near misses and injuries of EM crews. Design/methodology/approach: Case studies were conducted with EM crews in the Hong Kong construction industry. Demographic attribute, network, safety climate and accidents data were collected through questionnaires and analyzed by a combination of social network analysis (SNA), cross-case comparison and nonparametric tests. Findings: The results revealed that language proficiency, network density and level of reciprocity were contributing factors of distinguishing high and low safety performing EM crews. EM management received more safety information from EM workers than local management. The centrality of EM workers was significantly related to their age, the perceived priority of safety and language ability. Practical implications: The research findings regarding the impact of safety communication network characteristics on the safety performance of EM crews provides insights to employers on how to cultivate effective safety communication patterns within EM crews that can lead to better safety performance. The connections between personal attributes and their positions in safety communication networks could help the employers identify the EM workers who are positioned on edges of networks and need more attention. Originality/value: This study contributes to knowledge by enriching the limited research on analyzing safety communication of small construction crews using SNA and expanding the research object to EM construction crews in the literature, who are more vulnerable to construction accidents. This research also extends the existing body of knowledge from studies mainly carried out in Western culture to Eastern culture. Although safety communication has been regarded as important for EM workers, there is a lack of quantitative analysis on this at a crew level. The present study provides empirical research to reveal authentic safety communication networks and their connections with safety performance and personal attributes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Construction safety and health
  • Ethnic minority workers
  • Safety communication network
  • Social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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