Research under way on revolutionary health and safety app

23 February 2017

Professor Billy Hare.

Professor Billy Hare.

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are developing an app that will look to revolutionise health and safety on construction projects across the globe.

The year-long project, which begins this summer and is led by GCU’s Professor Billy Hare, will deliver an innovative system for educating architects and other designers to help them improve health and safety for construction workers, as well as the occupiers and users of buildings.

The app will integrate with existing Building Information Modelling (BIM) software and make use of video, images and memes that highlight particular health and safety issues pertinent to individual designs.

BIM is essentially a computer-generated model containing graphical and tabular information about the design, construction and operation of a project, which is accessible by all the partners involved in its delivery − from the architects, engineers and contractors to manufacturers and suppliers.

Research into the app has been made possible by a £102,800 grant from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the world’s largest professional organisation for OSH practitioners. The international research team will include RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

Professor Hare, Professor in Construction Management in GCU’s School of Engineering and Built Environment, said: “Academics in the past have attempted to create systems that tell architects and designers the ‘safest’ design option, but this approach is too simplistic and those who make design choices don’t work that way.

“We want to create a knowledge database that recognises there are many design options, and each has its own pros and cons when it comes to health and safety. Therefore, designers can make informed decisions.

“For example, flat roofs without edge protection can result in falls from height. Using the app, an alert would come up to suggest building a handrail or harness anchor point into the design to improve safety for maintenance workers. Another area that could be highlighted is that prefabricated concrete stairs reduce time working at height and eliminate cement burns, slips and trips over formwork.”

Professor Hare added: “The app is aimed at all designers, but will predominantly help inform new and inexperienced designers who have no, or very little, site experience and therefore may not fully understand the health and safety consequences of their designs.”