Digital black box to help improve health and safety?

A digital black box that could help improve construction’s health and safety record is in the early stages of development.

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)/Pagabo team that announced its intention last week to challenge current methods in the construction industry ( has revealed further information about its plans.

Asked about the role digital technology will play in the team’s work, Charley Wainwright, the Future of Construction Lead at framework provider Pagabo, said: “This is a particularly exciting part of the work we are going to carry out. Ultimately, we are looking at a digital black box for construction. Using the same ideas from the aviation industry of learning from accidents and the data surrounding it, we are looking at assessing multiple factors on a construction site via a number of new technologies that are under development. 

“With this data collected, we can learn the reasons behind and causes of accidents. The data will be available to everyone in the industry to digest, so we can better ourselves as an industry with this knowledge.

"We believe that health and safety should not be something that we compete on and therefore working together is best step forward. The collaboration with the AMRC will allow us to develop the technology behind these ideas.”

Image: 155553776 © Somporn Suebhait |

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  1. Technology is not always the answer and I believe this project will only prove what we all know, accidents come from everywhere and at any time. Having technology tell us that is not going to help.
    The actual problem is the culture of the industry and we have been trying to change that for over 40 years without success.

    In the industry we have skilled craftsmen, less skilled craftsmen and those just taking up a space. The vast majority are sub-contractors working for a price and that has probably been screwed down by the contractors they work for. For the vast majority, health and safety can be an obstacle between profit and loss and whilst the site manager spends their time in the office, corners will be cut.

    Perhaps it is the technology that is causing the problem by having site managers sitting in the office playing with their computers and learning a plethora of new technology skills, rather than getting out, walking around their jobs and tackling problems before they occur. Anybody up for carrying out a study?

    After 50+ years in the industry, the only real change I see is the mountains of paperwork and electronic form filling, whilst very little has changed with the operative’s response to good safe practices on site when push comes to shove.

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