The challenge of health and safety management in the AEC industry
Health and safety information in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry is often unstructured, disconnected, and complicated.
It is not uncommon for health and safety information to be held in risk registers saved in spreadsheets and transferred between parties via email. These risk registers can vary from person to person, project to project and even within the same organisation.
While this approach may be suitable for some smaller projects, it becomes increasingly complex with larger projects which may have hundreds or even thousands of risks.
After a look around the industry, it was evident that many organisations were looking for a better way to manage their health and safety information.
A health and safety solution for the whole industry
To help address this issue, a large consortium of partners including: 3D Repo, Atkins, Bentley, Costain, HS2, Laing O’Rourke, Mott MacDonald and Tideway came together to develop a solution that could be used on projects of any size.
Rather than further fragment the industry, the consortium decided to work as a team to bring together best practices that the whole construction industry could benefit from.
The group successfully applied for funding from i3P and Innovate UK to develop what is now known as ‘SafetiBase’; a cloud-based repository which uses existing best of breed solutions to improve risk management.
Compliant with PAS 1192-6
The SafetiBase platform is based on and fully compliant with PAS 1192-6: Specification for collaborative sharing and use of structured Health and Safety information using BIM.
The PAS 1192 framework is a series of documents that sets out the requirements for achieving BIM Level 2 – which the UK Government has already committed to complying with for all large-scale and public-sector construction contracts.
PAS 1192-6 is part of this framework and aims to encourage collaboration and sharing of structured health and safety information throughout project and asset lifecycles. It does this by providing guidance on how to incorporate health and safety information through BIM processes and applications
The PAS 1192-6 supports the development of structured health and safety information for all construction projects from the outset.
A system for managing health and safety risks in construction
The consortium decided that whatever system they developed, it should be simple, structured, and connected. Initial investigations using real data from the Thames Tideway West project and HS2 revealed significant manual processing, confirming the requirement for a better solution.
The consortium developed the solution through three phases:
Phase 1: Extract data and develop the interface
Phase 2: Integrate opensource cloud system
Phase 3: Develop a dashboard platform and automation
The solution is managed through a web-based platform, which in this case is 3D Repo’s digital construction platform. With an open API, this means that the user can also view health and safety information in their native 3D modelling system.
Further analysis of the data can be carried out by connecting to business intelligence tools such as Microsoft Power BI to make custom dashboards and gain better insights.
The result of the consortium’s work is a database of health, safety, and welfare issues linked to an online 3D repository of project data. This means that users benefit from existing knowledge for similar projects, eliminating the need to reproduce this information each time.
Not only does this have the potential to save a large amount of time for any project, but it also creates a much safer working environment for people working on-site by mitigating risk.
Working with the Health and Safety Executive
To further increase the benefit of SafetiBase, the consortium is working alongside the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) through the Discovering Safety programme. A recent initiative has been the creation of health and safety risk treatment suggestions.
Moving into the future, the project team hopes to be able to automatically create lists of risks based on how models are put together, auto-mitigate against those risks and drive industry solutions for everyone to benefit from.