BIM: The Risk Eliminator

Daniel Piff
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is one of the most talked about topics among construction industry professionals today, leading to some revolutionary projects that are delivered on time, on budget and, more importantly, safely.

Various studies on the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) have shown that a safer worksite can be achieved, as communications can be improved and errors can be eliminated. 

Benefits such as the ability to identify building element collisions can positively influence safety. For example, consider ceiling work in utility plants. Utility plant buildings consist of extensive pipework and conduit in the ceiling, which are typically installed with fire sprinkler piping and other mechanical and electrical elements.

Any collisions of these elements, identified in the field after installation, results in rework, such as removal and reinstallation of pipes and conduit, incurring delays and extra costs. Construction workers often operate in tight spaces because of existing components, creating access, fall protection and ergonomic concerns.

With the correct use of BIM, eliminating risks is a much easier process. It allows us to look into the future and experience how the building will work before completion, thus eliminating or reducing significant risks.

Collisions detected before the start of construction can therefore prevent rework in the field. Less rework means better safety. BIM also improves worker safety because more items can be preassembled off site in a controlled environment. For example, structural members can be preassembled off site at fabrication yards.

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations call for all risks to be eliminated or reduced as far as is reasonably practicable. Consequently the CDM Coordinator needs to work closely with the design team to coordinate and manage this process. 

With the correct use of BIM, eliminating risks is a much easier process. It allows us to look into the future and experience how the building will work before completion, thus eliminating or reducing significant risks.

BIM also enables construction teams to plan work safely. Should a project require significant excavations, BIM construction teams can look at key risk factors such as locations for the building footprint, gradient and structural implication of the ground, utility service runs, and construction traffic flow in close proximity to the open excavations.

However there are some barriers to BIM’s use and success. These include availability of the system, system costs and lack of training. Engaging the CDM Coordinator from project outset will ensure a positive impact on the design risk management process.

Faithful+Gould is currently undertaking a major BIM-led project with Birmingham City University, delivering a new mixed use student building in Birmingham’s city centre. Critical decisions have been made during the early stages of RIBA Stage C which will result in a structure that is safe to build, use and maintain.