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Investigating the implementation of immersive technologies within on-site construction safety processes

Mark Swallow (Department of Natural and Built Environment, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Sambo Lyson Zulu (School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK)

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

ISSN: 1726-0531

Article publication date: 13 June 2023

178

Abstract

Purpose

The benefits of integrating immersive technologies (ImTs) within a construction safety context are acknowledged within the literature; however, its practical application on construction sites remains low. Whilst research into the integration of ImTs within the construction industry is underway, most have viewed this from a broader adoption context or within educational settings, and not specifically from a practical on-site safety perspective. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to address the contributing factors to its integration within on-site safety processes, using the experiences of active construction professionals.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopts a qualitative approach. Data was collected through online focus groups involving UK based construction professionals with experience in using ImTs, recruited using selective sampling. Data sets were subsequently analysed using inductive thematic analysis and are presented within key themes.

Findings

The results showed that among the experienced construction professionals, the use of ImTs specifically for on-site safety applications (including inductions/training/workshops) was rare on projects. The findings identified various contributing factors related to the integration of ImTs, including the potential improvements in on-site safety practices such as enhanced communication of hazards, safety planning, engagement during training and more accurate risk assessment. Critical challenges, concerns and frustrations included a lack of engagement from senior level management, inadequate leadership, limited investment, a need for digital expertise, fear of complacency and the acceptance of ImTs within existing safety processes from the wider project team.

Originality/value

This study provides a fresh perspective to this field by using practical accounts from active and experienced on-site construction professionals. This study supports the integration of ImTs within the construction industry, presenting key contributing factors influencing its integration within on-site safety processes. These factors can be considered by industry adopters, and includes the rationale, challenges and potential on-site benefits of ImTs.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Citation

Swallow, M. and Zulu, S.L. (2023), "Investigating the implementation of immersive technologies within on-site construction safety processes", Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEDT-01-2023-0005

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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