Hazard app 'to save construction workers' lives'

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image captionConstruction workers on the Glasgow School of Art

A new app that shows potential dangers at building sites could save the lives of construction workers, experts say.

It contains a database of potentially hazardous scenarios, with pictures and video, which architects and designers can use to improve their own plans.

The technology was developed by a team of researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

Project leader Billy Hare said it had the potential to prevent mistakes which cause accidents.

Fire containment, heavy lifting and trip hazards are among the problems designers are able to browse and troubleshoot.

Eliminating hazards

Users are able to click on photos of hazards and are then give options to "eliminate", "reduce" and "inform" problems - rather than relying on contractor controls.

An experiment which tested the app showed that architects using the technology were able to identify more than three times the number of hazards as those without it.

For civil engineers the figure was five times more.

Prof Hare, who lectures in construction management at GCU, 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."

He added: "A key factor for this research was the visual nature of the digital app's content, which seemed to work best with new graduates.

"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."

'Saving lives'

The research was given £102,800 in funding from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

According to IOSH, up to half of construction accidents in the UK have a connection to the design of the building.

Mary Ogungbeje, research manager at IOSH, said: "Everyone would agree that it's always best to prevent an accident from taking place in the first place, rather than reduce the injury.

"In today's age of technology, being able to utilise digital training resources to help designers do just that is great. Such tools can make a real difference in upskilling professionals, irrespective of their level of experience.

"Architects and civil engineers can identify hazards and come up with better controls when developing and reviewing designs. Ultimately, this will reduce injuries and save lives."

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