Improving construction safety with virtual-design construction technologies - A review

Muneeb Afzal, Muhammad Tariq Shafiq, Hamad Al Jassmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The construction industry is prone to major safety hazards owing to the complex and onsite nature of construction projects. Hence, construction researchers have been pursuing concepts, methods, and tools using advancing technologies to improve construction safety management. Subsequently, the rapid digitization of construction work practices is providing opportunities to improve construction safety. Research has revealed that construction safety management practices can benefit from the applications of virtual design construction technologies (VDC), such as building information modeling (BIM), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), geographic information systems (GIS), and gaming technology. This study comprehensively reviews 191 research articles, published between 2010 and 2019, focusing on providing an overview of the implementation and application of VDC technologies for improving construction safety. The objective of this review is to critically collect and analyze applications of VDC technologies and present a holistic view of the features and functions of VDC technologies that can impact jobsite safety improvement in the construction industry. The review showed that VDC technologies can substantially improve construction safety. Emerging digital technologies, such as BIM, VR, AR, GIS, and gaming technologies can transform the traditional document-oriented safety procedures into digitalized safety practices allowing safety managers to visualize and analysis construction sites virtually to devise proactive safety measures and effective safety trainings. This study also highlights challenges such as research gaps regarding these digital tools that are currently impeding their widespread use in construction safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-340
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Information Technology in Construction
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • 4-D BIM
  • Augmented reality (AR)
  • Building information modeling (BIM)
  • Construction safety
  • Digital design technology
  • Geographic information system (GIS)
  • Virtual design construction (VDC)
  • Virtual reality (VR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Computer Science Applications


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