School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


a man mowing a sports pitch

Work and Health Research Centre

The Interaction Between Design and Occupier Behaviour in the Safety of New Dwellings

Research Team

Dr Hilary McDermott
Professor Roger Haslam
Professor Alistair Gibb (Department of Civil and Building Engineering)

The Problem of Home Accidents

Unintentional home injuries present a serious public health and safety problem worldwide. Within the United Kingdom, almost 4000 deaths occur annually as a result of a home accident and almost 3 million domestic accidents arise which necessitate the casualty attending a hospital accident and emergency department (DTI, 2003).

Home accidents may be attributable to occupier behaviour, dwelling design and condition or a combination of both factors. Reducing the incidence and severity of unintentional home injuries within the UK is a public health priority and various preventative measures targeting unintentional injuries have been introduced. Prevention programmes might benefit from an ecological approach whereby environmental factors and individual factors are considered, in addition to the interaction between the two.

Research Aims

The aims of this research are to

  • Gain an improved understanding of the different ways in which people use (and misuse) features within their home
  • Identify the varying ways in which occupier behaviour can interact with dwelling design to lead to unsafe practices

The findings of this investigation should be of interest to those responsible for the development of building standards, procedures and guidelines, providing further information regarding the interaction between occupier behaviour and dwelling design. The findings should also benefit those agencies responsible for promoting home safety by illustrating the problems occupiers experience with dwelling features and how these problems might be avoided through alternative design.