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Developing a Framework for Deploying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to Improve Construction Safety Management

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The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is gaining traction in the construction industry. UAVs are used to address productivity, inspection and safety matters. This paper presents a conceptual framework that would help to deploy UAVs on construction sites for safety inspection purposes. The paper was compiled from the data obtained in the literature. The keywords unmanned aerial vehicles and safety in construction were used to search the relevant database. The findings reveal that the use of UAVs would help the construction professionals improve safety on construction sites through the capturing of visual images and video clips on the site project from a bird’s eye view. The collected data (images or video clips) could be analyzed to identify risks and hazards that might cause accidents on construction sites. There is major scope for using UAVs to improve construction safety when appropriate guidelines are implemented.
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Book Title The Construction Industry in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Series Title
Chapter Title Developing a Framework for Deploying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to Improve Construction
Safety Management
Copyright Year 2020
Copyright HolderName Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Corresponding Author Family Name Mollo
Particle
Given Name Lesiba George
Prefix
Suffix
Role
Division Department of Built Environment
Organization Central University of Technology, Free State
Address Bloemfontein, South Africa
Email lmollo@cut.ac.za
Author Family Name Emuze
Particle
Given Name Fidelis
Prefix
Suffix
Role
Division Department of Built Environment
Organization Central University of Technology, Free State
Address Bloemfontein, South Africa
Email
Author Family Name Smallwood
Particle
Given Name John
Prefix
Suffix
Role
Division Department of Construction Management
Organization Nelson Mandela University
Address Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Email
Abstract The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is gaining traction in the construction industry. UAVs are
used to address productivity, inspection and safety matters. This paper presents a conceptual framework
that would help to deploy UAVs on construction sites for safety inspection purposes. The paper was
compiled from the data obtained in the literature. The keywords unmanned aerial vehicles and safety in
construction were used to search the relevant database. The findings reveal that the use of UAVs would
help the construction professionals improve safety on construction sites through the capturing of visual
images and video clips on the site project from a bird’s eye view. The collected data (images or video
clips) could be analyzed to identify risks and hazards that might cause accidents on construction sites.
There is major scope for using UAVs to improve construction safety when appropriate guidelines are
implemented.
Keywords
(separated by '-')
Construction - Safety - Unmanned aerial vehicle
Developing a Framework for Deploying
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to Improve
Construction Safety Management
Lesiba George Mollo
1(&)
, Fidelis Emuze
1
, and John Smallwood
2
1
Department of Built Environment, Central University of Technology,
Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
lmollo@cut.ac.za
2
Department of Construction Management, Nelson Mandela University,
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Abstract. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is gaining traction in the
construction industry. UAVs are used to address productivity, inspection and
safety matters. This paper presents a conceptual framework that would help to
deploy UAVs on construction sites for safety inspection purposes. The paper was
compiled from the data obtained in the literature. The keywords unmanned aerial
vehicles and safety in construction were used to search the relevant database. The
ndings reveal that the use of UAVs would help the construction professionals
improve safety on construction sites through the capturing of visual images and
video clips on the site project from a birds eye view. The collected data (images
or video clips) could be analyzed to identify risks and hazards that might cause
accidents on construction sites. There is major scope for using UAVs to improve
construction safety when appropriate guidelines are implemented.
Keywords: Construction Safety Unmanned aerial vehicle
1 Introduction
The nature of construction work is complex and unique when compared to other
industries. Construction industry embraces different types of risks and hazards that are
faced by workers daily. Thus, there is a need to reduce risks and hazards in construction
and this need encouraged researchers and practitioners to search for innovative
methods, technics, and technologies. Despite innovative methods of construction or the
adoption of technologies, safety at work is a complex phenomenon, and often the
adopted method of construction works exposes the workers to hazards that might result
with accidents causing either injury or fatality [1]. To solve this reported problem, most
of the construction organizations have opted to design safe work procedures that have
the primary purpose of managing safety on sites [2]. In addition, safety at work is
concerned with the workers, and most of the workers have an informal and oral culture
of risks, in which safety is rarely openly expressed in the workplace [3].
AQ1
©Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
C. Aigbavboa and W. Thwala (Eds.): CIDB 2019, The Construction Industry
in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, pp. 18, 2020.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-26528-1_59
Author Proof
There are several factors contributing to the unsafe working environment in con-
struction. For instance, the workers safety-related behaviors and their compliance with
safety rules are inuenced by the site supervisorsdecisions or actions. Site supervisors
decide how to control certain risks on construction sites, and this makes it necessary for
the workers to behave in certain ways [4]. The unsafe behavior of the workers on
construction sites is recognized as one of the factors causing accident causation [5].
This is because the knowledge and attitudes of the workers towards safety often differ
from individual to individual. Also, safety practices, norms and attitudes are continu-
ously negotiated between the workers and site supervisors [3]. Additionally, it is
reported in the HSE [4] report that it is better to eliminate the risks and hazards in a way
which are not reliant on human behavior.
To ameliorate reported safety problems causing accidents in construction, several
tools are deployed on project sites. In the context of this paper, a tool called unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs) is chosen to address safety problems in construction. UAVs has
been used in construction for a variety of purposes for more than a decade [6]. It is
reported that in the United Emirates of Arab (UAE), Australia and the United State of
America (USA), UAVs are used to perform site inspections and violations detections
on construction sites [79].
However, in South Africa, the construction industry is not utilizing emerging
technology to improve safety when compared to other developed countries. In essence,
there is little utilization of such technology in South African construction, despite
UVAs been in existence for more than a decade. Thus, the aim of this paper is to
propose how to deploy a UAVs for on sites in South Africa. The deployment frame-
work emphasizes the effectiveness of UAV as a tool for enhanced safety regarding
construction site objectives.
2 Research Method
In this research, the authors applied systematic literature review to answer the questions
which asked, how will the use of UAVs help the safety manager to improve safety on
construction sites? The literature review included papers that investigated UAVs and
safety topics in the construction industry. The adopted literature search is completed by
reviewing the titles and abstracts of the published papers between 2010 and 2019.
Firstly, the author would review the title, followed by an abstract, and a full paper
would be screened. The adopted owchart of this systematic literature study is high-
lighted in Fig. 1. The databases used to search for the published papers included a
Science Direct database (https://www.sciencedirect.com/), International Council for
Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) database (http://www.
irbnet.de/daten/iconda/CIB_DC31504.pdf), and Google Scholar databases (https://
scholar.google.co.za/). To identify the relevant papers for this study, the keywords such
as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), safety management systems and construction
industry, were used to search the databases. In this study, 26 authors were cited from
the reviewed papers.
2 L. G. Mollo et al.
Author Proof
3 Background of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
This section outlines the history or background of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
So, UAVs, which is commonly known as drones, are aircrafts systems that can y
without a pilot and passengers on board [10]. The aircraft system includes the UAVs or
drones (remotely controlled aircraft), the control system, satellite-based equipment,
communication links and an operator (pilot) needed to operate or y the aircraft
effectively and safely [11]. The operations of the UAVs depend on the participation of
a pilot being a person. Historically, UAVs were designed for the purpose of military
services [8]. In the year 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the USA
issued a rst commercial UAVs permit to grant permission for its use for business
purpose [12].
According to the report by Dronethusiast [12], the rst commercial UAVs in the
USA were used by the government agencies for disaster relief, border surveillance and
wildre ghting, and while the Agricultural Industry started using UAVs to inspect
pipelines and spray pesticides of farms. In the industrial sectors, the agricultural
industry dominated the use of UAVs for improving agricultural production, and other
industries such the real estate has taken advantages of this technology to conduct aerial
survey and mapping of planned developments [11].
UAVs in the construction industry has been adopted to carry out site inspections
and design site layout plans [13]. It is also used to monitor the working conditions of
people, and to identify the potential risks and hazards on sites [14]. According to
Hubbard et al.[15], UAVs provides a platform to improve safety management by
providing real-time visual information to monitor the work on sites. The high denition
camera which is installed on UAVs provides visual assets (images and video clips),
which can be analyzed to improve the safety management system on construction
projects [14].
LITERATURE SEARCH
1. Science direct databases
2. CIB databases
3. Google scholars
databases
LITERATURE
SELE CT ION
1. Review the title
2. Review the abstracts
3. Screen the paper
CONTENT ANALYSIS
1. Analysing the literature
2. Summarizing the
literature
FRAMEWO RK
DEVE LO PMENT
1. Develop a conceptual
framework
2. Validate a framework
Fig. 1. The owcharts of the study
Developing a Framework for Deploying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 3
Author Proof
4 Regulations Governing the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
(UAVs)
It is stated in the previous section, that the rst commercial permit to y UAVs in the
USA was issued in 2006. The permit to y UAVs in the USA shows a sign of good
regulations and it also helps to remove the anxiety of citizens regarding the usage of
UAVs for commercial purpose [16]. Thus, regulations both endorses and overturns
innovations. Good regulations should be able to apprehend social values and objectives
and is effective in promoting economic activities by reducing direct and indirect costs
[16]. UAVs in the USA is regulated by the Federal Aviation Industry (FAA), which is
the main agency for managing civil aviation [6]. The FAA regulates UAVs by dividing
the UAV uses into two categories namely, to y for hobby purposes and y for
commercial use [6].
While, in South Africa, the use of UAVs is regulated by the South African Civil
Aviation Authority (SACAA). In terms of Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Regulations,
2011, the pilot operating a UAVs shall be appropriately trained on the UAVs and
qualied for the area and type of operation. In addition, the SACAA acknowledges that
numerous businesspeople interested in obtaining a UAVs operator certicates for
business purpose are required to provide aerial work service South African Civil
Aviation Authority [17]. The operator or pilot of a UAVs is compelled to observe all
statutory requirements relating to liability, privacy and any other laws enforceable by
any other authorities when ying a UAVs.
5 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) on Construction Sites
This section outlines the impact of UAVs in the construction industry. As elaborated in
the introduction section that this study focuses on the deployment of UAVs for
enhanced safety regarding construction site objectives. Safety in the construction
industry is a serious concern and the industry is regarded as one of the most hazardous
industry contributing to high accidents rate worldwide [2,3,18]. The causes of acci-
dents in the construction industry are rooted in the working conditions of people.
Notably, construction sites could be overcrowded with workers who are exposed to
high risks duties such as operating at height and outdoors and with heavy machinery
and equipment [19]. There are numerous factors contributing to the workers safety
through the interactions among the workers and the work environment [20]. Thus, it is
important to investigate the working environment of the workers to improve safety in
the construction industry. The use of modern technologies on construction sites is one
of the most recent interventions used to improve safety management system on con-
struction sites.
As explained by Tatum and Liu [11] UAVs are used to improve the working
conditions on construction sites. For example, UAVs could be used to investigate the
workers safety-related behaviors through site inspections. However, it is critical for a
UAVs operator to investigate the site project which UAVs would be deployed to and to
determine the area which would be suitable to capture the images and videos of a site
4 L. G. Mollo et al.
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project [21]. It should be acknowledged that safety inspections are the responsibility of
a safety manager on a site project [8]. The safety inspection process is carried out by
regularly walking and taking direct observations of the site activities or tasks by a
safety manager.
The competency of a safety manager on construction sites can be increased sig-
nicantly with the use of UAVs [11]. The use of UAVs in the construction industry is
continually changing the safety managers task of direct observation on site works and
interacts with the workers [15]. UAVs improves site inspection by providing real-time
inspection and surveillance from the site project in the form of a high-denition
(HD) images and videos [9]. Figure 1highlights the images that were taken on a
Brazilian construction site using a UAVs for a safety inspection. It can also be noted
that the images captured using a UAVs on a site project helps the safety manager to be
able to identify the risk and hazards which might cause accidents. Additionally, the
images and video clips captured using a UAVs provide reliable data suitable to
improve the safety inspection as indicated in Fig. 2[21].
It should be acknowledged, that safety inspection process in the construction
industry is based on the three main aspects, which includes, being regular, imple-
menting direct observation and leading interaction with workers [22]. Therefore, it is
critical for the safety manager to align safety inspection process with the safety system,
especially when evaluating the working conditions of a site project [23]. It is further
reported that safety inspections through visual aspects (images and video clips) also
provide data to improve the working conditions at a site project [24].
Fig. 2. Examples of non-compliance observed images on a site project in Brazil (Adapted from
Melo et al. [21])
Developing a Framework for Deploying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 5
Author Proof
In addition, Fig. 2shows the example of non-compliance observed images on a
project in Brazil. Plate (a) demonstrate waste unprotected from rain; (b) workers
without hard-hats and personal fall arrest systems; (c) safety platforms not installed on
the entire perimeter of the building; (d) workers on the roof unprotected from falling;
(e) inappropriate use of hard-hats; (f) there is no isolation of areas for loading and
unloading of materials.
6 Discussion and Way Forward
Based on the reported literature regarding the construction challenges relating to safety,
it can be concluded that indeed safety at work is a complex phenomenon as emphasized
by Rae and Provan [2]. Accident experienced in construction is described as
unavoidable, happens unexpectedly and the construction industry is high risk when
compared to other industries [25]. Hence, the causes of accidents are also rooted in the
working conditions on construction sites. To solve this reported safety problem, a
proposed conceptual UAVs framework sets a standard ground on how to improve
safety in construction using visual safety inspections. According to Mendes et al.[24]
the use of visual technologies can contribute positively to the entire process of safety
inspections and improving safety practice on construction sites. Additionally, it is
reported by several authors such as Melo et al.[21], Hubbard et al.[15], Tatum and Liu
[11], Irizarry et al. [8], and Moud et al.[6] that the application of UAVs for safety
inspections is used to identify hazards and improve the unsafe working conditions on
construction sites.
The application of UAVs for safety inspections is indicated in Fig. 2. While Fig. 3
presents a conceptual framework guideline for deployment of UAVs in the construction
industry. The following procedures must be followed when deploying UAVs for safety
inspections. Firstly, an operator that might be a safety manager must set a UAV.
Thereafter, an operator must y a UAV to start with the site surveillance. During the
surveillance, an operator will capture the images or video clips of the site under
surveillance (Fig. 2shows the images captured using UAVs on a Brazilian site project).
The images or videos clips will be saved either on a smartphone or iPad, which was
used as a signal transmitter. Thereafter, a database will be created, and the images or
video clips will be saved on a computer. The images or video clips would be analyzed
with the determination of identifying the risks and hazards, which might cause acci-
dents, and the working conditions on sites. Thereafter, the data would be processed to
help the safety management team to improve the safety management system based on
the analyzed data of the images or video clips (Fig. 2shows the images which were
used to identify hazards on a Brazilian site project).
6 L. G. Mollo et al.
Author Proof
Despite the formulation of a UAV deployment UAVs to improve safety in con-
struction, there is still a need to validate the UAVs framework on an actual research
project. To test this deployment framework, new studies are under development in
order to evaluate the impact of safety inspection using UAVs on a construction site.
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Unmanned aerial vehicle
(UAV)
Safety inspections or
surveillance
Visualization
Images and video clips
Set a UAV
Fly UAV to a site project
Take images or video clips using high definition
(HD) camera installed on a UAV
Data storage
Data analysis
Saving images or video clips taken by a UAV on
a computer (creating a database)
Data processing
Identifying the risks and hazards from the site
images or videos
Improving the safety management systems
Fig. 3. A conceptual UAVs framework to improve safety in construction
AQ2
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As the construction industry is carried out in hazardous environments, it experiences accidents in different levels of severity, some causing minor and major injuries with even some resulting in fatality. In addition to the human cost involved, it also causes bad publicity to the profession. Worldwide, authorities have tightened up safety standards, which have enhanced the performance in construction sites. However, accidents are still happening and there is a need for further research on this important subject. From construction organization’s point of view, accidents are unexpected events and unplanned costs. Some accidents may change the organizational goals or it could even make the company uncompetitive in the industry. A good understanding of accident forecasting is vital in construction project management. This research explores four questions that arise in accidents in construction sites. Namely, (1) What are the impacts of accidents on construction work? (2) What are the uncertain contributory factors in these accidents? (3) How are human and financial aspects linked to accidents? (4) What are the possible project performance enhancements under uncertainty factors of the accident? The objectives of this research paper are (i) to investigate construction site accidents to identify the critical causes and effects; and (ii) establish relationship of accidents with additional project cost, additional time, project scope, company reputation, and impact on national safety indexes. While human errors were identified as the main cause for construction accidents, negligence or mistakes can happen due to the uncertain circumstances. Hence, unavoidable accidents have to be expected in the construction industry. The commitment of all humans involved, from the project manager to the labourer towards good practices would enhance the safety performance in construction sites.
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Pervasive unsafe behaviors of construction workers are the primary cause of accidents on construction job sites. The workers' safety-related behaviors are subject to a variety of factors, such as interactions with coworkers and interventions by management teams. The impacts of these factors have attracted considerable attention in academia but are yet to be fully examined. To provide a quantitative assessment of these impacts and their managerial implications in practice, an agent-based modeling approach of construction safety-related behaviors, which adopts a bottom-up architecture, is proposed in this research. This approach regards safety performance as an emergent property of the behaviors and interactions of construction workers and management teams. The development of the agent-based model is based on a range of theoretical and empirical evidence, including a cognitive analysis model for modeling worker behaviors, and site observations and surveys for the design of simulated working environment and tasks, as well as the modeling of individual behaviors and interactions. Four managerial scenarios are simulated using the proposed approach. Based on the simulation results, the effects of a number of managerial factors on the safety performance of construction workers are examined. These factors include duties of supervisors, the competency and inspection strategy of safety officers, the frequency of safety training, senior managers' involvement in safety activities and emphasis on safety goals. The effects of these factors are examined in a quantitative manner, and relevant implications for construction safety management practice are discussed. The findings prove that agent-based modeling is an effective approach for analyzing the characteristics and patterns of construction safety-related behaviors and assessing possible safety management strategies.
Conference Paper
While Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been used on construction job sites for different purposes for over a decade, the risks and hazards of flying UAVs on construction job sites has not been either quantitatively or qualitatively assessed. Quantifying the risks of flying UAVs over general populations is a common practice in the general UAV industry. This study uses an established model that has been used to quantify the risks of flying UAVs over general population, propagates the bases of the model based on the construction industry needs, tailors some of the input of the model based on the construction industry specifications, and uses the Monte-Carlo Simulation method to quantify the risks of flying UAVs over a real construction job site adopted as a case study. This model is based on mishap rate for UAVs, population density of the area that UAVs fly over and the lethal area of UAVs that could be potentially fatal in the event of a crash. While this paper presents the very first effort in quantifying the risks of flying UAVs over construction sites, there is a need in the construction industry to tailor this model based on the needs of the industry to make the model more accurate.
Article
Individuals’ unsafe behavior is commonly identified as an important causal factor in workplace accidents. Research has demonstrated the effect of work-related stress on work performance, while the effect of safety-related stress on safety performance has received little attention. This paper examined the predictive powers of safety-related stress and psychological capital (PsyCap) on safety behavior, and the moderating role of PsyCap on the safety-related stress–behavior relationship. Questionnaire survey data were gathered from 359 construction workers in China. Results showed that high safety-related stress would impair safety behavior in terms of safety participation (SP) but not safety compliance (SC). PsyCap’s positive influence on SC was stronger than that on SP. Furthermore, PsyCap moderated the relationship between safety-related stress and SP. For their sub-dimensions, it was found that (1) three selected safety-related stressors had negative influences on SP, while only safety role ambiguity had an effect on SC; (2) four sub-dimensions of PsyCap had stronger influences on SC than those on SP; (3) general PsyCap moderated the three safety-related stressors’ effects on SP; and (4) four sub-dimensions of PsyCap moderated the effect of general safety-related stress on SP. This research contributes to the conception of safety-related stress by demonstrating its validity and its negative effect on SP. It also contributes to the study on the mechanisms of SC and SP by clarifying the differential influences of safety-related stress and PsyCap and by considering their combined effects. Measures for improving SC and SP from the perspective of safety-related stress and PsyCap are discussed.
Article
The use of technologies on jobsites is one of the recent challenges for construction management. To exemplify this, studies report the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Systems (UAV/UAS) for transportation and jobsite monitoring, and these potential features have caught the attention of the construction industry. However, studies are still required to orient the development of operational procedures for using this technology effectively, mainly for on-site safety monitoring. This study aims to assess the applicability of UAV for safety inspection on construction sites, focusing on the identification of the requirement that can be inspected and the non-compliances with the safety requirements established. This study was based on two case studies, conducted by a protocol developed for data collection, processing and analysis of the visual assets (photos and video recording) gathered from the UAS flights on jobsites. The results show that the visual assets collected by UAV can improve the safety inspection on jobsites by means of a better visualization of working conditions. This fact was pointed out by the analysis of the visual assets which provided detailed information about the compliance of safety items according to the safety regulations. The main contribution of this research is the development of a set of procedures and guidelines for collecting, processing and analyzing safety requirements from UAS visual assets on jobsite in order to identify the potential to incorporate this technology into the project’s safety management routine.
Article
Regulation both promotes and suppresses innovation. Good regulation is effective in terms of realizing social values and objectives, and is efficient in promoting economic activities by minimizing direct and indirect costs. The use of alternatives rather than traditional prescriptive approaches has been encouraged, but is still the challenge of policy makers and researchers who still lack the expertise to introduce alternatives in regulation. In this paper, the authors discuss the regulation of small unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAVs), because sUAVs are advantageous in a variety of sectors although they also violate the safety of people, buildings, vehicles, and manned aircraft. This paper focuses on the current discourse on sUAV safety regulations in Japan, and extends the System-theoretic Accident Model and Process (STAMP) approach to assess the current regulations. The authors highlight four safety concerns and show alternative ways for more effective and efficient regulation in terms of the expectations of stakeholders for alternative regulation.