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Digital design apps can help make building projects safer for construction workers, researchers say

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Photo: Institution of Occupational Safety and Health

Glasgow, Scotland — Construction project designers can create safer buildings and enhance their knowledge of common design-related hazards by using multimedia digital apps that help identify, prevent and mitigate risks to construction workers, researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University say in a recent study.

The researchers asked 20 novice and 20 experienced designers from two industry groups of architects and civil engineers to review computer-aided building drawings to identify hazards and make decisions about designing for occupational safety and health. The designers were divided into an experimental group (app users) and a control group (internet searchers).

Overall, the designers recognized 599 hazards. The biggest difference in hazard recognition came after the introduction of the app to the experimental group, which used the tool to recognize an additional 105 hazards. The control group, meanwhile, found only 27 additional hazards with help from an internet search.

The researchers recommend the use of a digital app during training, particularly for architects.


“A key factor for this research was the visual nature of the digital tool’s content, which seemed to work best with new graduates,” Billy Hare, professor and deputy director of the Research Center for Built Environment Asset Management at Glasgow Caledonian University, said in a July 29 press release.

“But its real potential lies in being able to capture tacit knowledge from more experienced designers for the next generation to counter the age-old problem of organizational memory loss and prevent the same old mistakes that cause accidents and ill health from being repeated.”

The study – funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health – was published July 29 on IOSH’s website.

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