The HSE is exploring the implications for BIM as a tool to improve health and safety standards on projects by engaging with the CIC’s health and safety panel, according to its chief inspector of construction, Peter Baker.
In an interview with BIM+, he said: “I see BIM as a really exciting opportunity to lock in health and safety and risk management in the earliest phases of the design, and enable it to be actively managed.
“BIM is an industry tool, so it’s for the industry to develop these opportunities. But colleagues are working with the Construction Industry Council Health & Safety group to understand and look at the potential opportunities BIM offers, in risk management, and in the design and construction phases.
Baker commented that the CIC H&S panel was an appropriate vehicle for dialogue as it includes representatives of the design and client communities, but added that the HSE would be prepared to engage on other fronts if there was a case for doing so.
The CIC H&S panel provides a forum for representatives of CIC member bodies to meet, shape policy, discuss initiatives and develop responses on health and safety on behalf of CIC. Membership of the panel includes the major chartered institutions, including the Association for Project Safety, the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, the IStructE, RIBA, and HSE.
The panel promotes H&S risk management in all disciplines and represents the CIC and its membership to other agencies such as CONIAC and CSCS.
Baker was also enthusiastic about the potential for “digitising” the interface between the HSE and the multitude of businesses in the industry.
“We’ve got to look at the most effective way of getting information to small businesses, and published factsheets are losing traction. So how do we get guidance to builders in a form that will be read? Possibly by digitising it and putting it in the form of apps. This is the direction of travel we’re going in – more apps, and more ways to engage with us, such as Facebook or Twitter.
Asked about a potential future smartphone app that would allow anyone on site to instantly inform the HSE of a possible breach, Baker highlighted that such an app already exists in Singapore.
“Its Ministry of Manpower has developed an app to report good and bad practice and enable businesses to get more feedback and make the most of good practice.
“We currently have a mechanism to report H&S issues over our website, which generates a lot of activity. I’m sure over time we will look to develop that system, but we’ve got no plans for an app-based approach yet.
But he foresaw that any such activity should be led by employers. “I would encourage the industry to pick up on this to get a greater sense of what’s going on in their businesses. A lot of businesses already have reporting mechanisms, but it would be logical if it finds its way to an app, as a mechanism for employers to raise H&S conversations with their employees.”
He also suggested that such an app could be developed by a third party, with employers paying for it as a service.
Overall, Baker said that his message to the industry was that large employers had a responsibility for raising health and safety culture and awareness along their supply chain and among smaller employers.
“The message for the industry is that we need to influence that end of the sector – the large companies can influence their supply chains, as we’ve already seen with the ‘Working Well Together’ campaign.”
We’ve got to look at the most effective way of getting information to small businesses, and published factsheets are losing traction. So how do we get guidance to builders in a form that will be read? Possibly by digitising it and putting it in the form of apps.– Peter Baker, HSE