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IOSH study: Apps can ensure safer buildings

Digital apps can help construction project designers create safer buildings by improving their knowledge of hazards during the design phase.

That’s according to new research funded by IOSH and conducted by researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University.

It found that the use of a multimedia digital tool can help to educate designers on typical design-related hazards and assist them in designing safety into construction projects more effectively. 

The study asserts that many professional design institutions have been gradually withdrawing the requirement for architects and civil engineers to spend prolonged periods of time on construction sites.

In turn, this has meant many designers do not have the construction knowledge needed to understand how their designs could impact occupational safety and health and often results in contractors taking on the responsibility for building designs.

However, the IOSH research shows up to half of construction accidents in the UK have a connection to the design of the building, highlighting the importance of improving designers’ knowledge of hazards and designing safety into developments from the outset of projects.

Professor Billy Hare, Deputy Director of the BEAM Research Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “A key factor for this research was the visual nature of the digital tool’s content, which seemed to work best with new graduates.

“But its real potential lies in being able to capture tacit knowledge from more experienced designers for the next generation to counter the age-old problem of organisational memory loss and prevent the same old mistakes that cause accidents and ill health from being repeated.

“We are now looking for partners to develop the prototype digital tool for full-scale industry use.”

As part of the study, a sample of 40 (20 novices and 20 experienced) designers from two typical industry groups of architects and civil engineers were recruited.

The designers were randomly assigned to multimedia user (experimental) and non-user (control) groups, who were permitted to use the internet for help. Participants were asked to review a set of computer-aided design (CAD) drawings in these sessions, identify hazards and make decisions about designing for OSH.

The experiment tested the multimedia digital tool against general internet searches and examined the designers’ ability to foresee OSH hazards in designs by measuring both the quantity of specific hazards identified and the quality of design outcomes.

Using the tool, the designers identified hazards a total of 599 times, with architects identifying over three times the number of hazards as those not using the tool. For civil engineers the figure was five times as large.

In both cases the scope of hazards identified was double that of the group not using the multimedia tool, suggesting it was an effective way of improving designers’ knowledge of hazards. This knowledge could help to create safer buildings by factoring a greater number of hazards into the planning and design of construction sites.

Mary Ogungbeje, Research Manager at IOSH, said: “Everyone would agree that it’s always best to prevent an accident from taking place in the first place, rather than reduce the injury.

“In today’s age of technology, being able to utilise digital training resources to help designers do just that is great. Such tools can make a real difference in upskilling professionals, irrespective of their level of experience. Architects and civil engineers can identify hazards and come up with better controls when developing and reviewing designs. Ultimately, this will reduce injuries and save lives.

“I hope that this research and the findings are welcomed by the design community in particular, including establishments with an educational or training interest, so that the learnings can contribute to improved industry practice.”

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 

‘Modern’ safety and health challenges studied in new book…

A new book based on research funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has investigated the changing context of health and safety policy and
‘modern’ concerns emerging in the OSH sector.

The chartered body commissioned studies over a five-year period by teams from: the
Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), Cranfield University, Loughborough University, and the universities of Reading, Portsmouth and Nottingham to create Health and Safety in a Changing World (2017, Routledge).

Shelley Frost, executive director of Policy at IOSH and co-editor of the book alongside professor Robert Dingwall, said:OSH is steeped in a colourful history, shaped by public perception and hugely dynamic.  This book explores those facets and provides a perspective on how the OSH professional can respond to the changing needs and expectations of the world of work.

“There are real opportunities explored on how those driving forward OSH agendas can position themselves to influence and shape the future.”

Considered to be one of the most ambitious research projects undertaken about the ways people are protected from injury and ill health in the workplace, were published in October 2016 and can be found here.

To find out more about the book, click here

IOSH’s ‘No Time to Lose’ campaign “of tremendous value”…

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) ‘No Time to Lose’ campaign has been declared as a ‘good practice solution’ to combatting occupational cancer on the ‘Roadmap on Carcinogens’ initiative.

Developed as a voluntary action scheme aiming to deliver good practice between businesses across the continent to decrease exposure to ‘cancer-causing substances’ in the workplace, the Roadmap was created by six European  organisations: BusinessEurope;  the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection;  the European Commission; the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work; the European Trade Union Confederation; and the Netherlands Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

All parties involved have signed a covenant to keep the prevention of work-related cancer a priority until the year 2019.

Focal Point manager of the Netherlands, TNO, Jos de Lange commented: “IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign is of tremendous value to the Roadmap on Carcinogens – it offers various solutions that are both well-founded and practical to apply in everyday workplaces, including an international action plan, free materials to raise awareness about occupational cancer, and the option for workers and employers to consult an expert. With this campaign, there is no excuse not to become active.” 

According to research, it is predicted that more than 100,000 European workers die every year as a result of exposure to carcinogens at work.


To find out more about the Roadmap on Carcinogens, click here

You can also find out more about the ‘No Time to Lose’ campaign by clicking here

IOSH’s new CEO determined to enhance global profile…

The new CEO of safety and health’s leading professional body, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has declared that she will work with all members to build partnerships and further raise the organisation’s global profile as part of a new five-year strategy.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Bev Messinger, who commenced her post on October 3 following her departure from water regulator, Ofwat, will work  with Trustees, staff and senior members on delivering IOSH’s ‘2017-2022 plan’.

Messinger said: “I was attracted to the role at IOSH as I believe I can make a difference to people’s lives. I would like to build on the strong history and credibility of IOSH and take it to the next level. Our Presidential team and wider membership do a great job in raising the profile of IOSH on the international stage. I intend to support them on this, building strategic partnerships and alliances which can enhance the drive to make workplaces across the globe safe and healthy.”

Taking over from organisation’s interim chief executive, Cyril Barratt, Messinger also intends to ensure that members continue to be provided with a ‘responsive customer service’, and that the Institution continues to be ‘modern and agile’.

IOSH currently has more than 45,000 members working across industry sectors in 120 countries.


To find out more about IOSH’s work, click here