Safety in Construction: Latest University of Melbourne Report Finds Majority Believe Tech Makes a Positive Difference

Technology has the potential to support many of the challenges around quality and safety that affect the construction industry today.

We are excited to announce the release of our latest report, created in partnership with The University of Melbourne, “The role of Technology in Supporting Construction Quality & Safety – September 2023”. The report looks at current trends in the role of technology in support of construction quality and safety in Australia and Singapore and includes a survey of 100 industry members across both countries.

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The report found two sets of distinct challenges in both Australia and Singapore when it comes to the take-up of technology to address quality and safety in construction, with different industry drivers resulting in different trends and approaches.

The survey focused on five key aspects in relation to quality and safety issues faced by construction organisations day to day. In Singapore, the biggest issue was found to be difficulty in capturing ‘as built’ information (66.7%), while in Australia the biggest challenge was a lack of clarity and audit trail of decision-making processes (51.9%).

Two of the biggest issues for both Singapore and Australian construction companies was difficulty in managing and maintaining data, as well as difficulty in accessing data. Technology can assist with all these issues, helping to transform the industry when it comes to the management and improvement of construction quality and safety processes.

To address the management of construction quality and safety, the report has found:

  • Both Australian and Singaporean construction sectors currently experience a changing context
  • Singapore faces a major turnaround in workforce, after much of the skilled labour left the country and a newly arriving workforce still needs training in quality and safety measures
  • In Australia, construction safety is continually improving and technology already plays a significant role. However, there is a need for nationalised standards for construction quality management
  • Singaporean and Australian government agencies are working closely with industry bodies and representatives to improve construction quality and safety using high-end technology and digital workflows
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM), jointly applied via Common Data Environments and Digital Twin approaches, are promising avenues to help project teams in improving collaboration as well as digitise parts of their verification and approvals processes
  • Digital workflows are increasingly assisting construction teams in managing activities onsite via 3D scanning / reality capture / geofencing and more. AI overlays will likely offer additional ways to automate checks and approvals in future.

Challenges to technology uptake for managing construction quality and safety

As part of the report, the industry survey asked participants about the gaps and challenges they encounter as part of monitoring, notification, and resolution processes and the associated use of technology.

Key issues for Singapore were misaligned communication protocols across multiple projects (71.4%) and difficulty in gaining valuable insights from the data (71.4%). In Australia, the biggest issue was a lack of information management across stakeholders (63.8%). All these challenges in construction quality and safety management can be improved through the adoption of technology.

Aligning workflows

Workflows are important for construction quality and safety management to facilitate information exchange across clients, contractors, suppliers, and consultants.

About 60% of respondents in both Singapore and Australia reported positive sentiment around the adequacy of quality and safety-related workflows applied in the construction industry. However, one-third of responses highlight partially severe problems in Australia, compared with about half that in Singapore who see the alignment to occur only occasionally.

The role of technology in providing a solution to challenges around quality and safety in construction

According to the survey industry respondents, an overwhelming 75% in Singapore see the role of technology either as essential or very important when it comes to construction quality and safety management. In Australia, 61% feel the same, with an even larger portion seeing it as essential.

According to Victorian Chief Engineer in Australia, Luke Belfield, “Data integration and aggregation helps governments to understand more fully their project portfolio’s risk exposure, understand how all projects are sequenced and how to manage disruption to a major city caused by ongoing works more effectively.”

Trade contractors such as A.G. Coombs’ Quinton Whitehead said, “A significant part of where technology assists us is in the use of live data. This helps us to become aware of safety issues as they emerge. It also assists with the early detection of potential quality issues.”

So, what’s next for the construction industry?

Survey respondents were asked to reflect on current trends to envision what the future holds over the next five to 10 years. Some respondents see AI, paired with live data captured as the way forward, while others caution that better standards, consistent processes, and software systems that help to integrate disparate data are needed first to drive industry transformation. Some see a focus on zero carbon initiatives as pivotal. In Australia, ACIF’s James Cameron said, “It has been said that ‘Data is the Oil of the 21st century.” In many ways, data collection, data management, and data use are the keys to success.”

Technology has the potential to assist in tackling many of the challenges faced in construction by connecting people and workflows across teams and organisations. Tools that enable innovation, systems and data analytics combined with matching policies, communication strategies and protocols, promise major improvements in construction quality and safety. As an industry, we need to continuously encourage the dialogue between industry bodies and policy makers, as well as those in the field, to draw on technology advances that are most beneficial.


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Sasha Menon

Regional Content Marketing Manager, Autodesk