The use of virtual prototyping for hazard identification in the early design stage

Chan King Chun*, Heng Li, Martin Skitmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose - The construction industry is well known for its high accident rate and many practitioners consider a preventative approach to be the most important means of bringing about improvements. The purpose of this paper is to address previous research and the weaknesses of existing preventative approaches and then to describe and illustrate a new application involving the use of a multi-dimensional simulation tool - Construction Virtual Prototyping (CVP). 

Design/methodology/approach - A literature review was conducted to investigate previous studies of hazard identification and safety management and to develop the new approach. Due to weaknesses in current practice, the research study explored the use of computer simulation techniques to create virtual environments where users can explore and identify construction hazards. Specifically, virtual prototyping technology was deployed to develop typical construction scenarios in which unsafe or hazardous incidents occur. In a case study, the users' performance was evaluated based on their responses to incidents within the virtual environment and the effectiveness of the computer simulation system established though interviews with the safety project management team. 

Findings - The opinions and suggestions provided by the interviewees led to the initial conclusion that the simulation tool was useful in assisting the safety management team's hazard identification process during the early design stage.

Originality/value - The paper introduces an innovative method to support the management team's reviews of construction site safety. The system utilises three-dimensional modelling and four-dimensional simulation of worker behaviour, a configuration that has previously not been employed in construction simulations. An illustration of the method's use is also provided, together with a consideration of its strengths and weaknesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
JournalConstruction Innovation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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