What is Building Information Modelling (BIM)?

Nowadays all UK government construction projects have to adhere to BIM, which is an acronym for Building Information Modeling and beginning to be used extensively in the building industry.  There are many definitions of what BIM is.

Here are some definitions of BIM

  • A software package
  • A 3D virtual model of buildings
  • A process
  • The organisation of all building data into a database so that it can answer questions in both a “visual” and a “numerical” way.

It is safe to say that BIM is all the above and some more…

Explanation of BIM

BIM starts with a 3D digital model of a building or structure to be built. See the YouTube video to understand the simple concept of BIM


The BIM model consists of the virtual equivalents of the building parts and pieces used to build a building. These elements have all the characteristics – both physical and logical – of their real counterparts such as walls, columns, windows, doors, stairs, etc., allowing simulation of the building part by part long before construction starts.

BIM allows storage of each part and stage of the build and keeps it all in one place.  Everyone has access to essential information, meaning that clients, building owners and operators get access to BIM models through their mobile devices.  So everyone has access to all stages of the project (if required).

BIM provides the means of identifying health and safety risks early on. If found, designers, say, can make changes to the original specification, making the work safer and less risk to health.

BIM and Health Risks

Safety risk assessment and hazards are well understood in the building trades. However, health risks are harder to find and quantify.  So here is my take on health hazards all through the build process for adding to the specifications in BIM.

As you can see from the Matrix below, I’ve put all the health risk associated with the build into a table.  Architects, planners and engineers understand the health risks, and take necessary precautions early on, ensuring you protect workers health at all stages, whether construction, maintenance or decommissioning.

One of the primary differences between safety and health risk is the latency of disease, included in column five.
The final column sets out any ongoing health assessment needed according to legislation (Appointed Doctors) or best practice, such as requesting that construction workers report any aches and pains caused by repeated manual handling.

The BIM Health Risk Matrix – for Construction Health Risks

BIM and Construction Health Risks Matirix
BIM and Construction Health Risks

This health risk matrix is my first attempt and needs further development for specific projects.  For those of you who are in construction and want to know about the health risks, here is a place to start so that when you are building your own matrix, bear in mind that each project will have different risks, but it’s better than anything we’ve had before.

Download the Excel spreadsheet: Health Risks For BIM if you want a readable version of the one above.
Or why not buy Looking After the Elf in Health and Safety, available on Amazon to find out more about health risks in all industries.