Benefits of Building Information Modeling for Health and Safety

By Stefan Mordue, Paul Swaddle, David Philp

Too often, you may only hear about BIM in terms of achieving better value for money or efficiency gains. However, BIM’s potential benefits in improving health and safety, thereby reducing accidents and deaths, are significant. Here’s a list of some key health and safety benefits:

  • Considering hazards and risks earlier: The most effective form of safety program starts at the planning and pre-construction stage. The further the project progresses, the less opportunities you have to influence and prevent construction injures. BIM allows you to consider and think about hazards and risks earlier within the design as information is shared and coordinated among the project team, such as making sure you have adequate clearance maintenance zones.

  • Greater understanding of health and safety issues: Getting the right safety information to the right person at the right time is critical. Communicating information visually is a good way to reinforce understanding. The use of LCD screens within site cabins, mobile computing technology, and video sharing websites such as YouTube helps you access and share information onto the construction site.

  • Simulate and test situations without anyone getting hurt: In a virtual world you can be and do whatever you like. Video gaming allows you to immerse yourself in other worlds without fear of danger or harm. Simulation within the construction industry allows you to test situations and scenarios without anyone getting hurt. This is particularly useful for site worker safety. Combine this with augmented reality, and you can start to superimpose the virtual model onto real-world surroundings, making your experience even more realistic.

  • Record health and safety decisions regardless of software used: With so much information, you need to make sure that not only does the project team capture the right information, but the project team also records it in a standardized way that others can view. Using file exchange formats such as IFC and COBie is a good way to capture open and shareable data.

  • Easy access to information via a digital health and safety file: The time has come to move away from documents to data, and from lever-arch files to digital information only. Storing information on intranets and extranets for end users or clients allows all team members to find information quickly.