A BIM approach to Construction Site Safety Planning

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The skyline of our cities is defined by several iconic buildings, high rises and skyscrapers. As our buildings sprawl vertical lengths, each building superseding the other, there are increased chances of onsite fatalities, injuries and other risks during construction.

According to the US department of labor - construction industry is one of the largest, at the same time; it is also one of the most dangerous. In such a scenario, improvement of safety conditions for construction workers and on site professionals needs to be prioritized. In the wake of several fatalities and injuries, in 2012, New York City became the first US municipality to approve “3D site safety plan” which uses BIM to electronically file safety plans.

However unless and until construction safety is not deep ingrained into the construction planning process, it is difficult to curb such fatalities. In 2013 itself, 828 construction fatalities were recorded, predominantly caused by the four fatal factors 1: falling, 2: being struck by an object, 3: being electrocuted and 4: getting caught between objects.


Construction managers and contractors need to lead with Empathy; it is important to place construction safety planning to the fore and weave construction workflows and work practices around the safety factor. Since the arrival and increased adoption of BIM technology, it has become easy to view and visually inspect jobsite conditions to identify the hazards. With BIM – issues such as inappropriate work planning, insufficient communication with workers and lack of safety training can be dealt. How? Let us elaborate:

1. Visually inspect on site conditions

BIM enables detailed visual understanding of a site and its safety conditions during the planning phase, even before we begin the actual construction. Such visual aid is important for new workers, who are not aware of the construction site safety measures, so that they can understand construction processes easily.

2. Identify potential hazards

BIM enabled visualization can be used to create 4D sequence and construction activity planning with site logistics. It is used to identify the potential hazards - particularly those that are unique to a particular project. Thence, with 4D scheduling capabilities, a choreographed safety plan for workers can be devised.

3. Eliminate risks and improve safety conditions

As I said, construction workflows need to be planned with safety at the core, and construction managers need to lead with empathy. Every potential hazard should be analyzed and eliminated. With BIM capabilities at hand, it is possible to focus on every risk individually and plan workflows such that every worker can prepare better for the task and avoid potential risks.

Besides, all the liabilities that arise due to lack of safety and hence loss of life and property are also reduced. Major focus on construction site safety is aimed at improving safety conditions for workers; however, this also reduces liabilities and provides clients with peace of mind.

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