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Health and safety in construction is getting a much-needed boost courtesy of funding from HS2 via the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
A new customisable online training tool is now in development by specialists in cloud-based Building Information Modelling (BIM) and digital twins, 3D Repo, in collaboration with 4D consultancy, Freeform, and Balfour Beatty Vinci JV.
The new tool will replace generic training videos and presentations with live walkthroughs of site-specific 4D (construction sequencing) visualisations based on existing BIM models that can be understood in any language.
Generic safety training will be replaced by real-time, site-specific visualisations delivered via an easy-to-use cloud-based user interface. Health and safety aspects will be coordinated with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Discovering Safety Programme, to enhance opportunities for compliance and reusability across other contractors.
Funding for the new training system is provided through a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) innovation competition funded by High Speed Two (HS2) and managed by Innovate UK. The competition aims to deliver innovation that will drive project efficiencies and process for use during the design and construction phase of HS2.
Dr Jozef Dobos, CEO at 3D Repo said:
“Inductions and onboarding in UK construction are usually delivered using generic PowerPoint slides, pre-recorded videos and printed questionnaires. Our new training solution will enable site personnel to quickly and easily generate engaging site-specific induction materials that are easy to comprehend and therefore reduce accidents and near-misses through better quality training.”
Dan Fawcett, Head of Innovation & Transformation at Balfour Beatty Vinci said:
“Our number one priority is to be ‘Be Safe and Well’ when constructing HS2, and BBV’s work on 4D Constructability Reviews with 3D Repo to date is a great example of innovating to improve health and safety. Introducing further collaboration with Freeform and HSE to build on this work is yet another step forward in ensuring no injury, ill health or incident is caused by our work activities.”
James Bowles, Founder of Freeform, said:
“4D models use graphical and non-graphical project information including time, resource, and logistics management to create more predictable, robust plans and sequences. With 3D Repo, we are developing a novel online tool which allows for simple planning and visualisation of intricate tasks to improve health and safety not only on HS2, but for the entire construction industry.”
Using the power of the cloud, the new training system will also provide centralised tracking of induction performance with full audit trail and reporting to measure effectiveness.
Work on the new 4D health and safety tool began in March 2021 and follows on from a recent announcement about adoption of new SafetiBase 4D technology which allows workers to safely identify and resolve issues using immersive 360º screens.
About 3D Repo
3D Repo is a multi-award-winning company offering a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform to bridge the gap between Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Digital Twins (DTs) in the cloud. Instead of architects, consultants and contractors sharing massive proprietary files in a costly and time-consuming manner, they can simply point their web browser to an encrypted knowledge base to examine each project stage virtually. With 3D Repo, users can manage model revisions and highlight potential issues using live collaboration tools, which allow the whole project team to work from a single source of truth. 3D Repo also includes patent-pending technology to identify real-time changes and clashes in 3D models. By comparing the actual geometry of a model rather than underlying, software specific object IDs or labels, 3D Diff Change Detection can identify changes between models from different sources. 3D Diff Clash Detection automatically highlights intersections, and therefore potential conflicts, between different types of models.
Freeform is a specialist 4D modelling and planning company that builds high detail 4D models. We work with teams at all project stages, from concept, through design, procurement, and into construction. We use a range of solutions including Synchro 4D, 3D Repo, Fuzor, Unity, and Rhino 3D. We’ve worked on over 500 projects in 13 years and have a portfolio that includes projects of all scales and sectors.
About BBV JV
BALFOUR BEATTY VINCI is a long-established joint venture between two global leaders in the delivery of critical infrastructure. We started working together over 30 years ago to deliver the Channel Tunnel as members of the TransManche Link consortium. Balfour Beatty VINCI is responsible for designing and building part of the most exciting and challenging railway project in Europe: HS2. We are building the West Midlands section of HS2’s Phase One route, spanning approximately 80km from Long Itchington in Warwickshire to the centre of Birmingham and on to Handsacre in Staffordshire. We will be employing thousands of people in the area to design and build the civil infrastructure for HS2 through the West Midlands area.
With roots stretching back to 1833 the modern HSE is an independent regulator with over forty years’ experience helping Great Britain work well. Using world leading science we have helped protect millions of people from devastating injury and suffering. HSE leads the way but doesn’t act alone. Everyone has a part to play – employers, unions, trade associations, professional bodies, academics, and others. The world of work is always changing. We use science to understand these changes. And that understanding helps us all prepare for the workplaces of tomorrow so Great Britain continues to be one of the safest and best places to work and do business. HSE also jointly delivers the Discovering Safety programme with the University of Manchester and other partners to use data to derive impactful insights that can be used to improve health and safety performance.Continue Reading
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Historically, lead is a material that has been widely used in the construction industry. In decades gone by, lead-based paints were a common feature as were lead pipes and roof flashings. However, studies have since shown it to be a substance that can cause significant physical harm, which means steps have to be taken to either eradicate its use or, where it already exists, protect those who work closely with it.
So, what are the risks of working with lead and how can we ensure everyone’s heath is adequately looked after?
What are the dangers of working with lead?
The Health and Safety Executive has published guidelines on working with lead, which outline some of the issues that can be caused by extended exposure to the substance. These include headaches, tiredness, weight loss, constipation, infertility and even damage to the kidneys, nerves and brain.
There are plenty of ways lead can enter your body, for example via the stripping or blast removal of old lead paint, which creates dust, fumes and vapour. In such circumstances, it can be easy to breathe it in or to swallow some if it gets transferred from your hands – perhaps when you’re eating, drinking, smoking or taking medication.
What steps should employers take to protect their workers?
There is a Control of Lead at Work Regulation which describes some of the ways employers can minimise their workers’ risks to lead exposure. These include:
- Fume and dust extraction to remove as many lead particles as possible from the environment.
- The provision of personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, goggles and disposable overalls for all employees on site.
- The use of different materials such as lead-free roof flashing, either to replace existing work or for new-build projects.
- Washing facilities to be provided on site so that all workers can clean their hands and faces before they eat, drink, smoke etc.
- The provision of a break area well away from the work site to reduce the risk of contamination.
- Staff at all levels to undergo regular training as to the protocols involved when working with lead.
- The fostering of a culture of accountability where employees are encouraged to point out potential problems before they start, as well as keep a close eye on their colleagues for any signs of being adversely affected due to lead exposure.