4D BIM for Construction

Improve Safety on the Job Site

Posted by Eric Olsen on Nov 22, 2013 10:04:00 PM


In 2012, the 775 fatal, on the job injuries, suffered by workers in the Construction Industry represented 19.6% of all work related deaths in the USA.  This is of note due to the fact that the construction industry accounts for roughly 7% of the entire workforce.  Despite the high visibility fluorescent clothing, hard hats, safety boots, eye protection, fall protection, trench protection, back up alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, tool box safety meetings, safety inspections, etc., the construction job site remains a dangerous place.  Heavy equipment, power tools, congested work areas, poor lighting, poor visibility, and poor weather combined with a dynamic ever changing job site challenge the best laid safety plans.  Only the agriculture, logging and fishing industry post a higher percentage of work related deaths.

 The majority of construction Industry related deaths can be attributed to “The Fatal Four” as defined by OSHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor).

Construction's "Fatal Four"

The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between. These "Fatal Four" were responsible for nearly three out of five (56%) construction worker deaths in 2012*, BLS reports. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 435 workers' lives in America every year.

  • Falls – 278 out of 775 total deaths in construction in CY 2012 (36%)
  • Struck by Object – 78 (10%)
  • Electrocutions – 66 (9%)
  • Caught-in/between – 13 (2%)


Training, equipment, and planning, when working in unison like the legs of a tripod, will drive down all safety related incidents on your job site, most importantly those “Fatal Four”, making your job site a safer place,

  • No one questions the need for relevant, up to date safety training that is clear and concise, conducted at all levels ranging from general to task specific to job site specific.
  • Proper equipment also falls into this category, including personal safety equipment, specialized task specific and site specific equipment.
  • As with many endeavors in life, all of the training and equipment in the world will be of limited value without a plan.  The ‘Plan” on your construction project is your schedule.  Your designers, architects and engineers are doing amazing things with cutting edge technology, including 3 Dimensional BIM.  Consider the positive effect that BIM linked to your CPM Schedule (a “4D” schedule) will have in matters of safety on your project, when the entire workforce can “see” and truly understand the schedule.  When the schedule is truly understood, proper planning can take place, negating the need for ad hoc decisions with potentially significant consequences.
    • Where is the crane moving to next week?  What tasks will it be charged with completing?  Is work scheduled to be performed below?  What are the safety ramifications overhead?
    • What stage will the main excavation be at the end of the month? How does this excavation affect nearby or associated work?
    • Will I have a "clear shot" at loading the building next Tuesday from the relative safety of the loading dock, or will an open trench block that point of access? Will an alternate load in point with a separate set of safety related issues be required?
    • Who will be working/ what will be taking place next to me/ below me/ above me? Will the adjacent work affect the ability of my crew to safely complete our work? Conversely, will my crew's work affect the safety of those around us?

These and a myriad of other safety related issues can be clearly identified and quickly understood by viewing a 4D model, allowing appropriate safety planning to take place up front. Leverage technology to make your job site a safer place.

At the end of the project, will you be able to say “Nobody got hurt”?


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