Prof. Rajeev RuparathnaRajeev Ruparathna is part of a research team using computer modeling to help construction workers operate safely during a pandemic.

Pandemic protection for construction workers goal of research project

University of Windsor researchers are using computer modeling to help construction workers operate safely and efficiently during pandemics.

Civil engineering professors Rajeev Ruparathna and Niel Van Engelen are developing an implementation strategy for maintaining physical distance using a Building Information Modeling (BIM)-based optimized work schedule. The 4D modeling feature of BIM will allow the duo to predict construction worker movements and make alterations to project schedules to mitigate health risks.

“Site managers will be able to leverage the proposed scheduling technique and training material to enhance site productivity and safety, and avoid costly shutdowns during pandemics,” says Dr. Ruparathna.

BIM and dynamic modeling will help the researchers identify high-risk zones in construction projects and develop safer work schedules that help maintain physical distancing. The proposed schedules will be further evaluated to understand the impact on the total project cost, schedule, and quality. Investigators aim to use this project to promote BIM-based safety planning in the construction industry.

The project will be completed in collaboration with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, which is providing $15K of in-kind support. The research team expects to develop training material for BIM-based construction safety planning.

The project is funded through a $49,500 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance Grant.

—Kristie Pearce