The construction industry accounts for nearly 10% of total jobs in UK alone. That is approximately 3 million people who due to the nature of their work are exposed to potential jeopardies on a live construction site. There is a risk of fall, structural collapses, machinery malfunction, electrocution among a few. In the post pandemic world, the safety concerns will only rise as new norms will have to be made and monitored with regards to testing, overcrowding, social distancing and frequent health checks.
The need for better on-site safety measures:
The need for finding solutions for on-site safety becomes apparent as we look at the number of people who are affected by accidents. In a study by International Labour Organization over 60,000 people every year lose their lives on construction site. In fact, 20% of the total fatal workplace accidents are related to construction sites. All workers operate on 1 in 200 chance of suffering a fatal injury in an of average 45 years of work.
Staggering numbers aside, these accidents also have project implications. Accidents often lead to investigations which stops work, affect the budget and deadlines of the project. On top of it all there are always psychological pitfalls of working in a constant stressful environment or in dealing with aftermath of an accident.
The technological advancements make it apparent that they would be used to preserve and safeguard the industry’s biggest asset – human lives. Below we explore the ways in which BIM Modeling Services can improve onsite safety.
How can BIM assist in improving safety on-site?
The above numbers and problem prove to us that there needs to be some concrete solutions for workers. BIM of course doesn’t guarantee a no accident scenario but it does enables better communication, allows for off-site inspections, optimizes planning and ensures that the structural integrity of the building. All this translates to lesser accidents and better safety.
1. BIM can help detect and prevent risks:
BIM is a 3D virtual construction of the building. Its digital database takes into account all the factors and situations that would impact the building and the construction process. It accounts for resilience of the landscape, the climatic conditions etc. A lot of materials used on the construction site also have toxins like in paints, wood or varnishes. BIM allows to note the material specifications and helps the project manager ensure that the construction workers wear necessary protective gear. The complete 3D visualization made possible through BIM allows the project teams target problem areas. For example: Under Architectural BIM Services the problem with a roof of the building can be detected before it can collapse on site and cause potential injuries.
2. BIM facilitates safety via prefabrication:
Prefabrication is a growing trend in the construction industry. Prefabrication leads to better quality products in lower costs and better safety standards. By moving construction activities to an offsite factory location negates a lot of hazards that would be faced by the workers on site like working at heights, falling objects. It also provides better comfort and safety to workers since they are working in a climate controlled atmosphere. Prefabrication also allows to use machinery which takes over manual tasks like lifting and carrying heavy material loads which is not always possible in narrow or uneven terrains. This prevents injuries like hand and vibration syndrome which affects soft tissue and can lead to permanent disability. It also automates many processes which reduces room for errors and provides safety during the complete lifecycle of the building.
3. Modern Technology for safety:
BIM can be used in association with modern technology like Virtual reality, drones, 3D simulation etc. This means that with the help of a drone the project manager can map of the construction site from the safety of his trailer cabin. The data can then be imputed into the BIM Model and its integrity can be tested. BIM Model also makes it possible to check out variations in the design and possible repercussion to the building all at a virtual level. It enables the team to carry out stress tests, to see the limits of the building structure or the machine carrying heavy load.
4. BIM allows for on-site Coordination:
One of the biggest advantages of BIM is its open collaborative model that allows all the members to have real time information about the construction site. It allows everyone to be on the same page and reduces the chances of any accidents happening out of miscommunication or mismanagement of information. Also the systematic, in-depth data provided by BIM means that the workers on site are able to do their tasks, identify the potential risks and come up with a reliable safety strategy. It also means supervisors are able to monitor weather the project standards are maintained or not.
BIM for safety in COVID-19 scenario:
COVID-19 has taken the world by a storm and it is becoming evident that we are going to have to learn to live with it. The construction industry has not been immune to its consequences. AEC Firms now have to find innovative solutions to ensure worker safety and BIM has emerged a clear solution. By 4D BIM, project manager can effectively schedule the construction process. They can ensure that by providing specific timeframes there is no overcrowding in a physical area. Thermal Sensors can be used to monitor worker’s health in real-time. Also BIM makes it possible for all the stakeholders in the project to keep and update all necessary data without actually being physically present in same place. BIM affects the way people think and operate, which is perhaps necessary in the COVID-19 world.
No matter how cautious the project team is the dangers of construction site are ever present. With all these precautions if an accident does happen, by virtually replicating the accident proper guidelines and safety standards can be established to ensure that doesn’t happen again. Thus, by incorporating BIM project managers and owners can reduce the number of accidents and enhance their construction process.