An app that will save lives and reduce injuries on construction projects has been developed by researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).
With research suggesting that up to half of construction accidents in the UK have a connection to the design of the building, the GCU team has created an application for architects and other designers to help them improve health and safety for construction workers, as well as the occupiers and users of buildings.
The multimedia digital tool can help building designers understand typical design-related hazards so they can create a safer construction environment. The app aims to help overcome the shift towards designers and architects not spending sufficient time on construction sites to give them an understanding of potential hazards. It makes use of video and images that highlight particular health-and-safety issues relevant to individual building designs.
Research into the app was funded by a £102,800 grant from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the team found that it helped designers identify a greater number of hazards, such as welding fumes, emergency escape during a project’s build phase, manholes in traffic routes and foyer-entrance slips.
Professor Hare, who is Professor in Construction Management in GCU’s School of Computing, 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 wanted 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.
“A key factor for this research was the visual nature of the digital app’s content, which seemed to work best with new graduates. But its real potential lies in being able to capture knowledge from more experienced designers for the next generation to counter the age-old problem of ‘organisational memory loss’ and prevent the same old mistakes that cause accidents and ill health being repeated.
“We are now looking for partners to develop the prototype digital app for full-scale industry use.”