Organisational and individual Health and Safety (H&S) competence is an essential element to the successful completion of a construction project in a safe way and without hazards to the health of all workforce. Under the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations 2007, the client should take reasonable steps to ensure that the appointed duty-holders and engaged people are H&S competent to design, build or co-ordinate the project. Although the CDM Regulations 2007 and its Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) have established ‘Core Criteria’ to guide the client to assess duty-holders’ H&S competence in the outset of a project, it is still difficult for most inexperienced clients to discharge the duty of making the key decisions in H&S competence assessment. In order to help the client implement H&S competence assessment, it is important to develop a tool that can effectively and efficiently support the client to make reasonable decisions in the selection of H&S competent duty-holders. According to the findings of the case study of existing formal H&S competence assessment schemes undertaken as part of this work, H&S competence assessment was characterised as a subjective, qualitative and non-linear regulation-compliance checking process. In addition, the case study helped identify the latent shortcomings in the ‘Core Critiera’ and the operational drawbacks in current practice of implementing H&S competence assessment. Based on a review of Information Technology (I.T.) and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) applications in construction, Knowledge-Based System (KBS) is identified as being a suitable tool to support decision-making in H&S competence assessment, mainly due to its appropriateness to solve regulation-compliance checking problems and support subjective and qualitative decision-making process. Following a decision-making framework for H&S competence assessment, a KBS decision-support model was developed, applying three mechanisms to support the reasonable decision-making for H&S competence assessment. In order to develop an appropriate and practical KBS for H&S competence assessment, a textual knowledge base was developed, specifying the minimum satisfaction standards and a rating indicator system for ‘Core Criteria’. As a result, an online KBS was developed using Java Server Pages (JSP) technology and MySQL. The online KBS applied the textual knowledge base to support the screen, rating, ranking and reporting decision-supporting mechanisms. Simultaneously, the case inquiry and expert inquiry facilities were also included in the KBS for effective decision-making. Finally, construction experts and practitioners in H&S management evaluated the validity and usability of the KBS through a questionnaire survey. The prototype KBS was borne out to be an effective and efficient decision-support tool for H&S competence assessment and have the potential to be applied in practice.
Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show that the UK construction industry has approximately 80 fatalities per year, making the construction industry one of the most dangerous industries when compared to other industries. The reduction of construction accidents in the construction industry has led to the need for thoroughly analysed construction environment information which can be effectively utilised in formulating construction health and safety planning strategies, thus enabling the construction industry meet accident reduction targets. However, existing approaches to information analysis mainly focus on factors within construction health and safety information during analysis and do not shed light on the influencing socio-economic and spatially influenced issues within which the industry’s accident contributory factors are rooted. It is also clear that limitations of information usage in the construction industry are due to the fragmented nature in which health and safety information is availed to practitioners for ultimate utilisation in the construction process. There is, therefore, a need for more appropriate decision-support mechanisms that can take account of spatial contributory factors to accident occurrence. There is also a need for mechanisms that enhance the management, analysis and utilisation construction environment information from varied sources for integration in the construction process. The failure to utilise information from varied sources in the construction industry, means that adequately analysed information is lacking for integration in construction health and safety planning strategy formulation process. This study was initiated as a response to this challenge. This prompted further research into the utilisation of health and safety information and its integration in the construction process. A survey involving 215 construction stakeholders was conducted to establish the limitation and requirements of health and safety in the construction industry. Results derived through qualitative analysis further emphasised the need for enhanced health and safety information analysis and integration for use in decision making. The research explored how the spatial element present in all in construction environment information could be utilised to account for accident contributory factors. This led to the exploration Geographical Information System (GIS), a mechanism that takes into account spatial aspects of bodies of information of the phenomenon being explored, for its potential capabilities in management and analysis of construction environment information. The implementation of the GIS-based system known as Geographical Information System for Accident Prevention (GISAP) is then presented. The evaluation of the system by prospective end-users reveals the limitations and benefits of the system implementation and recommendations made for further research. In conclusion, it was clear from this study that this approach has the potential to provide a quick referencing GIS success that can link, organise, analyse and display accident data and other construction and non construction environment data. This can assist stakeholders in decision making during formulation of construction health and safety strategies. The approach can improve understanding of analyses and can enhance the handling of queries related to accident data and other data. This innovative approach can also offer an extra dimension of safety information management, identify trends and areas for effective accident preventive action and ultimately enable development and directions of future work and to engender wider debate.
Moore, Nigel Jonathan (University of Wolverhampton, 2013)
The creation of an effective construction schedule is fundamental to the successful completion of a construction project. Effectively communicating the temporal and spatial details of this schedule are vital, however current planning approaches often lead to multiple or misinterpretations of the schedule throughout the planning team. Four Dimensional Computer Aided Design (4D CAD) has emerged over the last twenty years as an effective tool during construction project planning. In recent years Building Information Modelling (BIM) has emerged as a valuable approach to construction informatics throughout the whole lifecycle of a building. Additionally, emerging trends in location-aware and wearable computing provide a future potential for untethered, contextual visualisation and data delivery away from the office. The purpose of this study was to develop a novel computer-based approach, to facilitate on-site 4D construction planning through interaction with a 3D construction model and corresponding building information data in outdoor Augmented Reality (AR). Based on a wide ranging literature review, a conceptual framework was put forward to represent software development requirements to support the sequencing of construction tasks in AR. Based on this framework, an approach was developed that represented the main processes required to plan a construction sequence using an onsite model based 4D methodology. Using this proposed approach, a prototype software tool was developed, 4DAR. The implemented tool facilitated the mapping of elements within an interactive 3D model with corresponding BIM data objects to provide an interface for two way communication with the underlying Industry Foundation Class (IFC) data model. Positioning data from RTK-GPS and an electronic compass enabled the geo-located 3D model to be registered in world coordinates and visualised using a head mounted display fitted with a ii forward facing video camera. The scheduling of construction tasks was achieved using a novel interactive technique that negated the need for a previous construction schedule to be input into the system. The resulting 4D simulation can be viewed at any time during the scheduling process, facilitating an iterative approach to project planning to be adopted. Furthermore, employing the IFC file as a central read/write repository for schedule data reduces the amount of disparate documentation and centralises the storage of schedule information, while improving communication and facilitating collaborative working practices within a project planning team. Post graduate students and construction professionals evaluated the implemented prototype tool to test its usefulness for construction planning requirements. It emerged from the evaluation sessions that the implemented tool had achieved the essential requirements highlighted in the conceptual framework and proposed approach. Furthermore, the evaluators expressed that the implemented software and proposed novel approach to construction planning had potential to assist with the planning process for both experienced and inexperienced construction planners. The following contributions to knowledge have been made by this study in the areas of 4D CAD, construction applications of augmented reality and Building Information Modelling; 4D Construction Planning in Outdoor Augmented Reality (AR) The development of a novel 4D planning approach through decomposition The deployment of Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) in AR Leveraging IFC files for centralised data management within real time planning and visualisation environment.
The use and application of 4 Dimensional Computer Aided Design (4D CAD) is growing within the construction industry. 4D approaches have been the focus of many research efforts within the last decade and several commercial tools now exist for the creation of construction simulations using 4D approaches. However, there are several key limitations to the current approaches. For example, 4D models are normally developed after the initial planning of a project has taken place using more traditional techniques such as Critical Path Method (CPM). Furthermore, mainstream methodologies for planning are based on individual facets of the construction process developed by discrete contractors or sub-contractors. Any 4D models generated from these data are often used to verify work flows and identify problems that may arise, either in terms of work methods or sequencing issues. Subsequently, it is perceived that current 4D CAD approaches provide a planning review mechanism rather than a platform for a novel integrated approach to construction planning. The work undertaken in this study seeks to address these issues through the application of a distributed virtual reality (VR) environment for collaborative 4D based construction planning. The key advances lie in catering for geographically dispersed planning by discrete construction teams. By leveraging networked 4D-VR based technologies, multidisciplinary planners, in different places, can be connected to collaboratively perform planning and create an integrated and robust construction schedule leading to a complete 4D CAD simulation. Establishing such a complex environment faces both technological and social challenges. Technological challenges arise from the integration of traditional and recent 4D approaches for construction planning with an ad hoc application platform of VR linked through networked computing. Social challenges arise from social dynamics and human behaviours when utilizing VR-based applications for collaborative work. An appropriate 4D-based planning method in a networked VR based environment is the key to gaining a technical advancement and this approach to distributed collaborative planning tends to promote computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW). Subsequently, probing suitable CSCW design and user interface/interaction (UI) design are imperative for solutions to achieve successful applicability. Based on the foregoing, this study developed a novel robust 4D planning approach for networked construction planning. The new method of interactive definition was devised through theoretical analysis of human-computer interaction (HCI) studies, a comparison of existing 4D CAD creation, and 3D model based construction planning. It was created to support not only individual planners’ work but multidisciplinary planners’ collaboration, and lead to interactive and dynamic development of a 4D simulation. From a social perspective, the method clarified and highlighted relevant CSCW design to enhance collaboration. Applying this rationale, the study specified and implemented a distributed groupware solution for collaborative 4D construction planning. Based on a developed system architecture, application mode and dataflow, as well as a real-time data exchange protocol, a prototype system entitled ‘4DX’ was implemented which provides a platform for distributed multidisciplinary planners to perform real-time collaborative 4D construction planning. The implemented toolkit targeted a semi-immersive VR platform for enhanced usability with compatibility of desktop VR. For the purpose of obtaining optimal UI design of this kind of VR solution, the research implemented a new user-centred design (UCD) framework of Taguchi-Compliant User-Centred Design (TC-UCD) by adapting and adopting the Taguchi philosophy and current UCD framework. As a result, a series of UIs of the VR-based solution for multifactor usability evaluation and optimization were developed leading to a VR-based solution with optimal UIs. The final distributed VR solution was validated in a truly geographically dispersed condition. Findings from the verification testing, the validation, and the feedback from construction professionals proved positive in addition to providing constructive suggestions to further reinforce the applicability of the approach in the future.
Al Kaabi, Saif (University of Wolverhampton, 2011)
Abu Dhabi, the Capital City of United Arab Emirates, evolved through various stages since its formation. However, unlike other Golf cities, policy makers, planners, and designers sought to guide its growth and development towards a sustainable responsive city. Sustainability has become a central theme of policy and practice, and the design of the built environment is playing a major role towards this. Abu Dhabi developed the World renowned City of Masdar, as a model of sustainable development and design, and established the Estidama Rating System to enforce specific sustainable applications. This aim of this study is to examine the cost-effectiveness of shifting the development of Abu Dhabi from a conventional approach to a sustainable one. In particular, it sought to determine whether vernacular design and architecture could help to address the quest for a sustainable city. The methodology adopted for this research was based on quantitative and qualitative approaches. Three buildings were selected to determine the cost-effectiveness of the proposed sustainable solutions. 1. Masdar building was studied to represent what is classified as a sustainable prototype. 2. Educational Building of Abu Dhabi Police Academy, which has an open courtyard at the centre of the building, represents a vernacular design. 3. Administrative Building of Abu Dhabi Police Academy, which has a closed atrium in the centre without any skylight, represents a conventional building design. The research involved an environmental investigation of power consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, indoor and outdoor temperature, indoor and outdoor relative humidity, and levels of indoor carbon dioxide. Monitors were installed in the three prototype buildings for a period of time, and the results of the readings were compared and analysed. In addition, a questionnaire survey was used to determine the impact of the three buildings on sustainable lifestyles and attitudes. Ninety users of the three buildings responded to the questionnaire. Their responses were also compared and analysed. The results of the monitoring of the thermal performance, power consumption and carbon dioxide levels indoors confirmed that most indoor temperature readings were similar due to the use of air-conditioning in the three buildings. However, cooler temperatures were recorded in similar rates in the alleyways of Masdar and in the courtyard of the Police Academy Educational building. In some cases, courtyard spaces in the Educational Building in the Police Academy recorded even lower temperatures than those of Masdar. These readings were much higher than those of the outdoor exposed temperature, whether in Masdar or in the Police Academy outdoor spaces. Considering that the cost per square meter of the Masdar prototype was almost the double of the other prototypes, these findings challenged the cost-effectiveness of the prevailing Masdar City approach. The results also highlighted the importance of the architectural heritage of Abu Dhabi to address the sustainability agenda, including its implications on planning and building regulations. The findings of the questionnaire survey revealed that there were no significant differences between user responses of Masdar and the Police Academy buildings. These also questioned the cost effectiveness of the Masdar prototype. However, the results also confirmed that the lack of awareness of the sustainability agenda for the users of the three buildings, thus highlighting the wider implications on the sustainability agenda.
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