How one university-built app could save lives on construction sites
Construction sites have long been notorious for workplace injury and no matter how cautious developers are with their safety standards, accidents still happen. Seeing this ever-enduring problem and wanting to do something about it, researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) set to work on a solution – and they may just have found it.
The team has developed a multimedia app that aims to reduce injuries and save lives on construction projects across the globe, and the initial results look very promising.
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.
The app makes use of video and images that highlight particular health-and-safety issues pertinent to individual building designs. According to the UK’s Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), up to half of construction accidents in the UK have a connection to the design of the building, so the app is working to directly counter that problem.
“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,” Professor in Construction Management in GCU’s School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment and lead on the project, Billy Hare said in a statement.
“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.”
Given the success of initial experiments, the team is now looking for a commercial partner to develop the app and bring it to market.
The project was funded by a £102,800 grant from the IOSH, which is the world’s largest professional organisation for occupational safety and health practitioners.
“Everyone would agree that it’s always best to prevent an accident from taking place in the first place, rather than reduce the injury,” said Research Manager at IOSH, Mary Ogungbeje.
“In today’s age of technology, being able to utilise digital training resources to help designers do just that is great… 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.”