Improving Job Site Safety Using BIM Technology
Written By Carol Dunn

Adopting the building information modeling (BIM) process isn’t just about compressing a project’s schedule, reducing costs and improving productivity. Metrics show that using BIM can also make the construction jobsite a safer place to work. Since recent statistics on construction injuries indicate the cost to the industry is around $11-billion annually, it’s worth taking a closer look at how using BIM can lower the number of injuries and fatalities.

As explained in the Dodge Data & Analytics 2015 report, “Measuring the Impact of BIM on Complex Buildings,” owners and contractors are using model-based workflows to improve on-the-job safety. Over 20% of study participants who used BIM for more than half of their jobs experienced a high or very high positive impact on safety with 36% to 38% fewer reportable safety incidents.

The importance of reductions like these cannot be understated. In the article, “25 Construction Safety Statistics and Trends for 2019,” safety is summarized thus: “Cost savings to the company are secondary to the obvious benefits of keeping workers safe. A safe workplace can also result in indirect benefits like a positive company reputation, the ability to recruit the best talent and improved employee morale.”

As summarized in the Health and Human Services report “Costs of Occupational Injuries in Construction in the United States,” the five costliest construction segments, accounting for $6.4-billion (over half) of the industry’s total fatal and nonfatal injury costs, were: specialty trade contractors; plumbing, heating and air conditioning; electrical; heavy construction (excluding highway); and residential building construction. According to OSHA, in 2017, the “fatal four” safety incidents included falls (39.2%), being struck by an object (8.2%), electrocution (7.3%) and being caught in/under/between objects/materials/equipment (5.1%).

Widespread adoption of the BIM process could reduce these numbers. Imagine the downstream benefits of just a 30% reduction in $11-billion cost of construction injuries. Imagine reducing by one-third the 2017 statistic of 99 construction fatalities every week.

A McGraw Hill Construction SmartMarket report in 2014 indicated an emerging relationship between the BIM process and safety. In “The Business Value of BIM for Construction in Major Global Markets, metrics on return on investment (ROI) showed there was widespread interest in the potential impact of BIM on safety, with trade contractors leading the pack. See the eVolve MEP whitepaper, “The History of BIM in MEP,” for more background.

How does BIM technology enable improved jobsite safety?

  1. Offsite prefabrication on the ground instead of onsite construction from above. This reduces the potential for falls, the leading cause of construction fatalities by far.
  2. Planning job details ahead of time before crews begin work, getting everyone on the same page.
  3. Identifying clashes and issues early in the life of the project.
  4. Developing safety models and workflow sequences.
  5. Validation of detailer 3D model and installation accuracy through the design model.

Although 39% of MEP trades acknowledge that BIM results in improved project safety performance, it is still considered an “emerging” benefit resulting mainly from offsite prefabrication currently. One of the leading tools in the industry for prefabrication is eVolve MEP. Built by a team of industry experts who have actually worked in the field, eVolve MEP harnesses the Revit platform to offer seamless collaboration like no other software. Every person on the project can work from the same data set in real time, something only eVolve MEP offers. If it’s time to improve your firm’s safety performance on jobs with the BIM process, contact eVolve MEP today and talk with the experts who know your industry and can help you make your jobsites a safer place to work. 

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