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FORENSIC ENGINEERING 2012 ASCE 2013 370

Application of Visualization Technologies to Design for Safety Concept

Mohammad Kasirossafar 1, Farzad Shahbodaghlou 2*


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1
M.ASCE, Department of Engineering, California State University, Hayward, CA
94542-3085 USA
2
Assistant Professor and Director of Construction Management Program, California
State University, Hayward, CA 94542-3085 USA

ABSTRACT

Construction industry is ranked first for occupational risks and workplace


incidents among all industries. Popular belief assumes most of these incidents happen
due to structural failures or worker carelessness. However research shows a link
between design and construction site incidents. According to the literature,
considerable number of accidents can be linked to the design phase. However,
designers usually avoid focusing on construction safety due to legal complications.
There are very few risk analysis and control methods available which can
evaluate the degree of safety risks for different design options. This study aims to
recommend some appropriate measures to enable designers to assess potential risks in
construction and deal with it in the design phase. Visualization tools, based on
Building Information Modeling (BIM), can help designers to detect potential
accidents and play a major role in safety planning prior to the construction phase.
This article establishes the ways in which integrated design and collaborative
features of BIM can be used in enhancing safety on construction sites. The main
objective of this paper is to prioritize the ways in which BIM can be utilized in
improving construction safety. For this purpose we classified the appropriate
measures that help BIM be more practical in safety management. Based on analysis
performed on responses to a survey, the two measures ranked the highest were as
follows: 1. Incorporation and development of various levels of detail into the BIM
model, as it pertains to construction equipment, material and labor at the design phase
2. Integration of hazard potentials and prevention strategies with the 3D BIM model

Keywords: Construction Safety, Design for Safety, Visualization, BIM



*
E-mail address: farzad.shahbodaghlou@csueastbay.edu

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INTRODUCTION

Designing for construction safety entails addressing the safety of construction


workers in the design of the permanent features of a project. The concept of
Prevention through Design (PtD) is a set of methods to reduce risks and hazards for
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construction workers (NIOSH, 2005). For this concept to work, the designer has to
buy-in to the fact that he/she can affect the safety outcome of the project through this
method. Traditionally, most designers do not have the required background to play an
effective role in the management of safety. Due to the nature of construction
activities, even in the safest designs, some level of risk and hazard still remains.
These can be addressed in the next steps beyond design. However, with the PtD
concept, designers can identify risks and hazardous situations by using Design for
Safety (DfS) Tools and try to eliminate them (Gambatese, 2008).
Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies can be used to identify
project hazards, in conjunction with DfS, as a new PtD tool in safety planning. BIM
and other visualization tools can create opportunities to assist design teams to identify
hazardous situations. Currently, BIM tools are more focused on topics such as
scheduling, quality, cost control, etc. However, little effort has been expended
towards improving construction safety using BIM. According to a study by Ku and
Mills in 2010, tools that use visualization and virtual construction and have the
potential to assist with the principal of DfS, include but are not limited to the
following:

1- 2D drafting (AutoCAD, MicroStation)


2- 3D modeling (Rhino, Maya, etc.);
3- BIM software (Revit, ArchiCAD, MicroStation, etc.);
4- 4D CAD (VICO, Synchro, NavisWorks, etc.);
5- Interference checker (NavisWorks); and
6- Design Development programs (CATIA, Pro/Engineer, SolidWorks, etc.).

Building Information Modeling is the state of the art technology that is not
currently being used to its full potential. BIM should not only be viewed as just a
simulation tool, but also as a centralized database to be used for multiple disciplines
in order to integrate and communicate. BIM is becoming the new standard and will
result in comprehensive change in the construction industry. For the broader
utilization of this technology in the construction industry for safety and health, we
have to become more pragmatic in our use of BIM.
BIM can facilitate information sharing between designers and builders with
checklists of rule-based safety considerations and simulation of construction
processes. BIM technologies can also provide a launching platform for the
advancement of solutions for pro-active construction safety management. This would
mean that the user can now have an active (as opposed to a passive) role in the
identification and abatement of possible hazards. Therefore, BIM provides a powerful
new basis for development of DfS tools and methods to facilitate both engineering
and administrative controls during design and construction.

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RESEARCH LITERATURE

In 1995, DfS was discussed by Construction Design and Management (CDM)


Regulations in UK for the first time. The purpose was to provide an integrative path
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by involving designers in safety issues and put a new set of responsibilities on the
different stakeholders of construction projects. Most designers tend to ignore the
safety considerations in their design because of legal concerns and the added
responsibility that it may bring to them. The current forms of contracts and their legal
implications do not hold the designers responsible for such liability either (Coble,
1997). Behm concludes that the extent and intensity of design has a relationship to
accidents in construction. It demonstrates that 42.0% of construction fatalities are
linked to design phase (Behm, 2005). Maloney and Cameron's study indicates that
designers do not properly understand their responsibilities towards the projects
occupational safety and health. They also lack appropriate knowledge to implement
safety measures in the design phase (Maloney and Cameron, 2004). Carter and Smith
indicate significant barriers to improving hazard identification. These include
knowledge and information barriers such as failure to share information across
projects, and process and procedure barriers such as lack of a standardized approach
(Carter and Smith, 2006).
Assessment and hazards elimination through various tools, as one of the
safety management cornerstones, are economically more efficient than root cause
analysis after the fact. Potential safety hazards can be identified at different stages of
the project by using Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) of buildings. VDC can
help architects, designers and contractors to virtually visualize the construction
sequencing and extend the understanding of the proposed construction process.
Building Information Modeling and visualization technologies help the
designer in early identification of hazards and communication with the constructor to
evaluate the level of safety considerations for different design alternatives. Building
information model is a digital representation of the physical and the functional
characteristics of a facility. As such it serves as a shared knowledge resource for
information about a facility. Therefore, it forms a reliable database for decisions
made during the life cycle of the project from inception onward. Creating a BIM
model is different from making a drawing in 2-D or 3-D CAD. To create a BIM
model, intelligent objects are used to build the model (NIBS, 2007).
One reason that BIM improves worker safety is because more items will be
preassembled off site and trucked to the site. In 2007, in a research project on BIMs
impact on project key performance indicators, 46% of respondents thought BIM
could be used to reduce casualties and damages and improve workers safety
(Suermann and Issa, 2007 - FIG. 1).

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FIG. 1:ResponsesaboutBIM'simpactson
constructionsafety
(SuermannandIssa(2007))

60 46 46
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40

20 8

0
EliminatesLOST Noeffect IncreasesLOST
MANHOURS MANHOURS

In a survey about BIMs impact on construction safety, 75% of the


respondents believed that construction accidents can be eliminated or lessened
through the use of BIM (Kasirossafar et al., 2012- FIG. 2). The three highest
rankings, in order of most preventable category of accidents, were falls from height,
cuts or blows from objects and tools, and thermal contacts or electrical shocks.

75
80
70
60
50
40
30 17
20
10 8
0

FIG. 2:Responsesabout3D/4DBIM'simpactsonhazardsandaccidentsinconstruction
sites%

As the figure 3 reveals, 53 % of respondents believed that visualization tools


have more positive effects on improving construction safety in comparison to the
other current tools (Kasirossafar et al., 2012).

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FIG.3: Current DfS tools

BIM can help to reduce the risks and potential hazards with consideration of
different design alternatives at the design phase. This is done through improving
equipment management and with utilization of information to optimize scheduling,
cost analysis, and quality control (Ku et al., 2010).

RESULT FROM THE RESEARCH

In order to investigate effectiveness of using BIM to improve safety, we need


to identify the features of BIM which can be applied to this task. Survey was
conducted to assess perceptions regarding the impact of implementation of BIM to
construction safety. This survey yielded 62 completed instruments from different
stakeholders involved in design and construction. Since BIM is a new and state-of-
the-art topic, respondents were selected from some of the most experienced designers
and engineers familiar with BIM, as well as the most prominent university professors
in Iran. Respondents were asked to rate their perception of BIMs application to
worker safety. Regarding gender, 95% (59/62) of the respondents were male and 5%
(3/62) female. The age data of the respondents shows that the mean was 26 years and
the median was 29. All of the respondents held college degrees, with 65% (40/62)
holding graduate or professional degrees and 35% (22/62) holding bachelor degrees.
The organizational role result data indicated 47% (29/62) of the respondents had a
design role and 53% (33/62) had a construction or management roles. For Design
Role, 38% (11/29) of the respondents were architects and 62% (18/29) were
engineers (See FIG. 4).

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FIG. 4: Demographic Information

The respondents were asked to rank from high to low, four areas of
application of BIM for construction safety. After considering the responses to survey
questions and based on the evaluation and sensitivity analysis performed by Expert
Choice Software, the following priorities were obtained:

Measures which would make BIM more Applicable for DfS


(Ranked from High to Low, in order of importance)

Incorporation and development of various levels of detail into the BIM model, 49%
as it pertains to construction equipment, material and labor at the design phase

Integration of hazard potentials and prevention strategies with the 3D BIM model 22%

Better communication among diverse team members 16%

Development of hazards identification methods among designers 13%

Based on responses, the first step with regard to making BIM more applicable
would be to integrate construction material, equipment and workers into the model
for better visualization and simulation. The next step would be to add safety hazards
to the 3D model with the support of a hazard database system. If the potential for
hazards are identified during the design phase, elimination of hazards would be more
economical and practical. Involving the contractor early in the design process creates
a collaborative process that brings together the design experts and the construction
professionals to improve the safety outcome of the project.

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CONCLUSION

The Design for Safety (DfS) concept has its roots in the design and planning
phase of the project. As such it focuses on making vital choices about various design
options, different ways of construction and materials used according to construction
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safety considerations. Coordination responsibilities in DfS rest with parties who have
control or influence over the design process. The main idea includes eliminating
hazardous activities or minimizing probable risks as early in the life cycle of a project
as possible. BIM creates a new and powerful base for the expansion and application
of available tools and methods, such as the DfS concept, to insure the highest levels
of safety considerations in design and construction.
Best Practices for the application of Building Information Modeling for
construction safety include, but are not limited to: 1. Incorporation and development
of various levels of detail into the BIM model, as it pertains to construction
equipment, material and labor at the design phase, 2. Integration of hazard potentials
and prevention strategies with the 3D BIM model, 3. Better communication among
diverse team members between design and construction professionals, and 4.
Development of hazards identification methods among designers. The survey
conducted in this research found the first two to be of higher priority.
BIM is new to the construction industry. To implement BIM, owners and
general contractors must select subcontractors with BIM experience. Items of high
safety importance, such as temporary structures, boom lifts, cranes and scissor lifts,
should be added to BIM. Design team should be educated on how to look for safety
concerns during the BIM design process. However, more research is needed to add
the safety dimension to BIM for monitoring and improving construction safety.

REFRENCES

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Science, 43, 589611.
Carter, G., & Smith, S. (2006). Safety hazard identification on construction projects. Journal of
Construction Engineering and Management, 132(2), 197205.
Coble, R., (1997). Knowing your role in construction safety to avoid litigation. Journal of the American
Institute of Constructors 21 (3), 2528.
Gambatese, J., Behm, M., Rajendran, S. (2008). Designs role in construction accident causality and
prevention: perspectives from an expert panel, Safety Science, 46.
Gambatese, J. Hinze, J. Haas, C., (1997) Tool to design for construction worker safety, Journal of
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Kasirossafar, et al., (2012), Building Information Modeling for Construction Safety Planning.
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Rajendran, et al., (2009). Development and initial validation of sustainable construction safety and
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