How BIM Can Help Construction Projects Become Safer
Did you know that one out of five or about 20% of the fatalities in private work professions for the year 2019 was in the construction sector?
Construction is one of the deadliest industries for its workers in the USA. With more innovative and ambitious projects kicking off at different cities and towns as the fears of the pandemic taper off, more and more construction professionals are deployed to work at sites. The rush to complete projects fast, make up for lost time, and deliver projects may be posing danger to their lives.
There’s little doubt that the first focus should be to make the construction sector a safer place to work. As it happens, one of the most powerful options to minimize safety risks in the construction sector could be turning to Building Information Modeling or BIM tools.
What we know of BIM is that it comprises a range or suite of software applications that help streamline a construction project by visualizing a construction project in 3D (or more dimensions) and enables easy management of construction activities as per a project plan. It allows managers or contractors to break down construction activities into modules, assign staff, visualize renderings of plans, share data on construction activities, timelines, and various other parameters with all stakeholders. It empowers project managers to effortlessly manage the lifecycle of a construction project and enable it to comply with client requirements as well as with local and regional compliance policies by regulators.
We also know that more construction companies are now relying on BIM to manage their work and predict outcomes in daily operations. In fact, the global BIM software market size is expected to grow to USD 8.8 Billion by 2025. This is a testimony to the success that construction companies are enjoying.
While all those benefits are well-known, one of the most far-reaching impacts of BIM could be to ensure that the project site becomes safer for work.
By modeling all the requirements, it is easier to predict exactly the conditions workers will be exposed to during the construction. This allows BIM to become a vital component in ensuring safety at the worksite.
Let us examine the top 4 ways in which BIM can prove to be the enabler of a safer construction job site:
Identify potential hazards
BIM can help in identifying potentially hazardous environments within a construction project that may pose risk to a worker. By modeling the construction process in 3D or with advanced options, it is possible to identify areas where collisions between moving construction items are more likely to occur, spots where risky maneuvers are required for completion of work, etc. Once such hazardous work locations are traced and noted in advance, it is possible to prepare a work plan to model construction activities that take into consideration extra care in these hazardous areas, including worker training and best practices.
Reduced on-site activities
With BIM, it becomes easier to plan construction by incorporating a lot of prefabricated structures and elements. These prefabricated elements can be built separately at other locations and transported to the final construction site thereby reducing workloads within the actual project site. When work is less, there are fewer chances for collisions and other hazardous activities that may be endured by workers when different works such as pre-fabrication, etc. are done at the project site itself. Other components like plumbing, ventilation, and cooling systems too can be built on pre-manufactured shared racks and then finally integrated into the construction site easily reducing the need for manual intervention for hoisting and installing them on tall buildings individually all the time.
By leveraging BIM for planning and scheduling, it also becomes possible to reduce the number of people onsite by adopting innovative models like offshore+onsite for greater efficiency and safety.
Autonomous safety checklist
With BIM, it is possible to model all sorts of risks within the construction environment. Once all risks are identified, then it becomes easier for creating a safety checklist for workers to follow in their daily tasks. Every day these checklists can be autonomously verified to ensure that only the right personnel with the right credentials and protection standards are allowed to work on each designated area of the project. This can also set the stage for better compliance with government regulations on workplace safety.
Of course, one of the key benefits of using BIM for planning is clash detection at the planning stage. This allows more efficient work schedules to be created and effort wastage reduced. Of course, it also reduces the need for “on the fly” changes to be made onsite as workarounds to such clashes. This also helps prevent accidents and unsafe compromises.
When work hazards are identified and checklists for staying safe are prepared with the aid of BIM, then it becomes easier to train staff on following safety norms. Workers are provided with better insights to carry out their individual tasks while adhering to safety norms. Real-life simulations of events like collisions, failed safety norms, and other faulty work routines can be demonstrated using modern technologies like Virtual Reality that feed off the BIM models to show the staff how to be cautious and controlled.
15% of the total cost of the private sector for fatal and non-fatal injuries is being incurred by the construction sector. The construction sector is an industry where the safety of workers is often a matter of controversy with lawsuits and legal ramifications aplenty. Hence, to build a long-lasting and sustainable business model, construction companies must make employee safety a key focus of their strategic plans as well. With BIM, it becomes easier to pre-plan all construction activities and thereby ensure that workers are protected always.