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Harnessing BIM to improve worksite safety

09 May, 2019

Digital modelling facilitates the process of identifying and managing worksite risks. BIM is also used for training and communicating with stakeholders.

How does BIM improve worksite safety?

Digital modelling, an area for improvement on worksites, enables risks to be identified and managed as well as raising awareness of employees and, as a result, provide them with a safe working environment.

 

BIM enables risks to be better identified 

External risks result from the worksite environment and, in particular, access points. They are linked to the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, parking, access points and storage areas, etc.

Risks on worksites increase considerably during their preparation and while equipment is being installed. Afterwards, accessing workplaces, the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, different tradesmen working at the same time, etc, must be orchestrated. Being able to view them upstream makes prevention easier.   

“The 3D worksite installation plan […] is rich in information both in terms of making it easier to get an overview of all the players involved in the life of a worksite as well as pinpointing any potential threats to safety with regard to vehicle and pedestrian flow both on the worksite and in the immediate vicinity,” confirms Romain Hacquard from the VINCI Construction France Normandie-Centre Digital Development Division.

Enhanced risk management thanks to BIM

The overall and collaborative vision provided by BIM makes it possible to manage site risks as work progresses starting before work begins and not while it is being conducted. This development represents a major development as it changes almost everything.

A priority from the design phase onwards

Including BIM in the construction process makes it possible to anticipate situations presenting the greatest possible risks such as working at a great height and contexts involving significant slopes. On the Parc aqualudique de Bergerac worksite, digital modelling was used by Thomas Mohen, VINCI Construction France Nouvelle Aquitaine Division, from the earthwork phase onwards in order to identify peripheral safety protection points and extract section drawings showing slopes, staircases, etc.

More free-flowing worksite organisation

The correct positioning of a crane, secure access needs, delivery flows and storage requirements can all be based on digital readings and their 3D representations. Within teams, BIM plays an educational role: “It brings together process planning teams and works teams,” says Adrien Reversat, VINCI Construction France Process Planning in the Centre-Est – Campenon Bernard Nucléaire Division.

Digital simulation of a worksite designed to calibrate the process planning of each phase – © VINCI Construction France

The complex and restrictive urban environment of numerous projects is better understood thanks to the addition of the benefits of virtual reality, worksite environment viewing using drones and satellite views.

As worksites are by definition constantly evolving environments, digital modelling helps plan the developments of the areas that need to be made safe. Having a clean and well organised worksite represents a safety factor for all players both for workers involved in building the shell or other tradesmen who work onsite at specific moments in time.  

BIM not only retraces the model at any given moment in time, it also factors in work schedules consequently creating a 4D model. Similarly, the geolocation of plant and men transforms the digital tool into a virtual safety pilot operating at all times.

Safety in the workplace

Shell worksite managers can analyse and explain workplace access points and working procedures by using digital models. All stakeholders are now able to focus, in particular, on unfamiliar procedures and special materials which can be a source of risks.

3D viewing of works facilitates the process of choosing the best materials and ensuring the safety of tradesmen in their working environment. « Before, we were faced with a problem during worksite operations whereas today we can simulate it from every angle before we begin building,” explains Raphaël Avenier, VINCI Construction France-Provence Division.

BIM provides the possibility of obtaining the nomenclature of parts quickly, checking their weight and simulating the assembly. The level of safety is increased with each step.

Dedicated materials

Being able to have an overview of all the safety factors in the digital model ensures that the right materials have been chosen in the right places, with good support, level by level. We were able to develop special tools upstream that ensured our personnel could work in complete safety on the walls of the Tour La Marseillaise. “Digital modelling allowed us to design workers’ walkways enabling our personnel to work at a height of 150 metres,” says Raphaël Avenier.

 High-performance device designed to position fibre-reinforced concrete walls, Tour La Marseillaise - © Michèle CLAVEL 

Additional applications for communicating with BIM

Thanks to digital modelling, worksites can be viewed upstream with the possibility of using each detail. Numerous additional applications help explain risks more efficiently and enhance communication with the various worksite stakeholders and residents.   

With regard to residents, 3D viewing – sometimes animated – of the temporary organisation system for the neighbourhood’s access routes and signage modelling makes it possible for everyone to acknowledge decision-making accuracy.

As for the players involved on the worksite, BIM can be used by team managers and tradesmen in a “BIM booth” – the digital totem found on VINCI Construction worksites – and is used, for example, as a focal point during the “15 minute-safety sessions” at the beginning of the day.

 Virtual reality harnessed to view the risks of men/plant collisions, used here by the Provence Division - © VINCI Construction France

Virtual reality, with its futuristic headsets, can further enhance this key moment for safety, thanks to serious games that model accidents and enable users to experience actual circumstances. 

Using BIM for training

BIM and its virtual reality applications are excellent training materials as this technology enables users to make mistakes without any consequences, something that is, of course, impossible in reality. Learning by making mistakes and through experience enables trainees to adopt a “checking culture”. Seeing your environment prior to actually working in it represents a major gain in terms of risk prevention and worksite efficiency.

 

Find out more about BIM and discover a wide range of good safety practices by downloading, “Conduite de projets en BIM”, published by Entreprises Générales de France.

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