by Richard McPartland
Described by some as 'BIM for Health and Safety' a new PAS, 1192-6, is now available in draft form and attempts to exploit the opportunities afforded by digital construction to deliver better health and safety outcomes.
The document is now open for public comment on the BSI website until 28 March 2017. (Free registration required).
How does the construction industry deal with hazards and risks?
Construction workers make up less than 5% of the UK workforce yet, in 2015, according to the HSE, 26% of all reported occupational fatalities were from the construction industry.
The sector has obligations to manage and protect the occupational health and safety of both its workers and members of the public who might be affected by construction activities.
These obligations are a requirement of the UK Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) and other statutory instruments; and are enforced by the UK Health and Safety Executive or designated Local Authority.
The overriding principles being to prevent and mitigate inherent risks and hazards.
Why is this PAS needed?
As the construction industry embraces its own digital revolution new opportunities exist to spot and forsee risks and hazards earlier and more effectively mitigate them.
Building on the advances in software applications and information systems, an opportunity exists to improve the process of documenting and sharing knowledge of risks throughout the lifecycle of a project, the built asset and across the wider construction industry.
The traditional tools of risk management used by health and safety professionals, documenting safe systems of work through method statements based on risk assessments, are often variable in quality and generic in nature. There is a theory gap in the understanding of how to develop, use and apply these tools within information systems and digital processes.
The increased use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) for both building and infrastructure projects provides greater opportunities to identify “foreseeable risk” much earlier, and continuously, throughout a project’s lifecycle, and to communicate the risks more clearly for use by others.
The increased use of BIM for both building and infrastructure projects provides greater opportunities to identify “foreseeable risk” much earlier, and continuously, throughout a project’s lifecycle, and to communicate the risks more clearly for use by others.
What does the PAS cover?
The PAS sets out how health and safety information can be identified, shared and used by the key players in the construction process, from initiator to handover.
The PAS builds on current practices in the UK construction industry, where the most advanced digitally enabled projects are using modelling tools and information systems to improve the design and construction; whilst recognizing there are very few examples yet where feedback shows that management of the built asset has equally benefitted.
How can digital construction improve health and safety?
Digital design and construction aims to develop an appropriate ‘information model’ of the project including the shape, location and attributes of the key products and systems, components and equipment, materials and substances, and zones and spaces.
The developing ‘information model’, with relevant and appropriately tagged data, provides enhanced opportunities for the health and safety hazards throughout the project and asset lifecycle to be identified and addressed.
Project programs are developed relating to the sequences, techniques and resources required to construct the proposed project. Software applications enable multi-discipline 3D models and construction programs to be brought together to create a ‘4D’ time-line model. A 4D animation can be used to review, assess and communicate construction options, hazards and risks. A visual representation of particularly difficult challenges is more easily understood by those who have to take responsibility and accountability for risk mitigation, control and management in both design and construction.
Developing a progressive information model throughout the design stage provides the planners and designers with a direct opportunity to improve the mitigation of risk. The use of 4D time-lined models in design supports the principles relating to ‘inherent safe design’, ‘safety by design’ and the legislative duties on designers.
How will this PAS help?
This PAS is intended to support collaboration and encourage the opportunity that shared structured information can offer.
Incorporated within this PAS are recommendations, potential approaches and proven techniques as to how information management, BIM processes and applications can be adopted to improve H&S standards and reduce the potential for harm.