Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland have introduced a multimedia app for architects and designers that identifies construction hazards related to building design elements using video and images.
To test out the app's efficacy, researchers, led by GCU Professor Billy Hare, chose 40 designers — an even mix of experienced and novice architects and engineers — to review a set of computer-aided design (CAD) drawings, with half of the participants looking for potential design-related hazards using the app and the other half getting help from the internet. Those using the app identified 599 hazards, or three to five times more incidences by architect and engineers, respectively, than those using just the internet.
Researchers believe that use of the app can not only improve the health and safety of construction workers but of future occupants and users of buildings as well and are looking for developers to help produce a prototype digital app that can be rolled out to the entire industry.
Also first developed in the U.K. was the Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety-United States (CROSS-US) system. Right now, anyone can use the CROSS-US website to report structural failures — actual or potential — and a panel of subject-matter experts will review and respond via the website's public forum with their analyses.
The experts are volunteers with the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) Structural Engineering Institute (SEI). The system will also track trends in structural engineering and will possibly notify building code-influencing organizations of any areas of standard practices that could be improved.
CROSS-US is not a safety app, but it has the potential to help architects and engineers to identify bad structural design, which could present safety issues.
While tech tools can help increase safety on the job, some technology, like drones, presents safety hazards as well. Pilot error and other missteps can cause the drones to fail, crashing into people or equipment below their flight paths. This is why the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) drone rules generally prevent flight over people or populated areas. So, it was a big deal for the industry when Hensel Phelps announced last month that the FAA has given the company a waiver to fly its parachute-equipped drones over populated construction sites.