Tuning Up BIM for Safety Analysis


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Virginia Tech


The construction industry is on the top list of hazardous industries. This justifies the importance of safety research in this industry. Review of the literature identified "falls" as the top mortality source in the construction industry. Therefore, this research focuses on falls from heights.

Conventional safety practices have held designers responsible for safety of the end-users, and considered constructors responsible for the safety of construction workers. Design for Safety — along with its similar ideas such as Safety in Design, Prevention through Design, etc. — is gaining attention with the emerging paradigm of Integrated Project Delivery which promotes collaboration between designers and constructors through the entire delivery process. With Design for Safety concepts, designers and constructors can work together to enhance construction workers' safety early in the design phase. The philosophy of Design for Safety is based on the idea that eliminating hazards early in the design phase rather than the construction phase is more effective. Szymberski's (1997) time-safety influence curve explains how construction workers' safety can be influenced in the different phases of construction. Szymberski depicts that the ability to influence safety diminishes as the phases from design to construction to operation progress.

This research is inspired by the Design for Safety (DfS) concept. It aims at "design"ing and "engineer"ing safety during design as well as construction phases. BIM (Building Information Modeling) and parametric modeling are the tools that this research considers when designing its road for future developments.

This research limits its scope to construction workers falls from heights. The research presents a framework for representing falls hazards for future implementation in a BIM modelin order to help the designers and constructors better study and analyze safety of construction workers. The research studied falls accidents recorded from past projectsand proposed rules and properties for hazard identification in a BIM / parametric model. These rules and properties were abstracted and presented in the form of flowcharts and validated by an expert panel. The flowchartswill guide software developers for incorporating hazard identification functions into parametric BIM environments in future research.