BIM & Safety

Let's talk safety. There have been some recent postings about how BIM can be used to create a safer job site through better planning, hazard communication, and visualization. We're not afraid of tough math, but we wanted to point out some fairly simple math that shows the direct benefit of BIM on safety.

BIM is a tool that can be used in many ways, but above all else, the greatest benefit is improved field productivity. This can be through better detail planning, more pre-fabrication, stronger communication around scheduling, or any number of other factors that result in better field execution and performance.

With safety, BIM can certainly be used to look at fall hazards, adjacency of activities that may cause a dangerous situation, or areas of hazardous material storage. But it takes effort to do this type of analysis. In addition, all good project managers, field superintendents, and any other properly trained field personnel are continuously on the lookout for hazards, problems, or safety issues. Proper safety training creates a higher level of vigilance, because attention and correction are the first steps in diverting a chain of safety failures that results in harm. This type of vigilance by all of the personnel on a job site is far more valuable than using BIM to look at safety hazards.

It has been confirmed that BIM has a tangible benefit to field productivity, which means that work on the job site gets done in fewer hours on projects that use BIM. Whatever the percentage, the result is a safer job site because fewer job site hours mean fewer opportunities for a chain of events to occur that results in someone getting injured.

It's as simple as that. So what does this all mean?

The link between BIM and safety that's created by better productivity needs to be talked about more often. While numbers of RFIs, change order percentages, and other metrics are simple to track to justify BIM, the direct link of BIM and safety is easy to overlook and far more important. We all want everyone to go home in one piece at the end of the day.