Digital information technologies for prevention through design (PtD): A literature review and directions for future research

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Purpose: With the rapid development of digital information and modelling software applications for construction, questions have arisen about their impact on construction safety. Meanwhile, recognition that designers can help reduce risks involved in construction, operation, and maintenance via a prevention through design (PtD) approach (also known as design for safety), highlights the significance of digital technologies and tools to PtD. Thus, this paper provides a systematic review of a wide range of digital technologies for enhancing PtD.
Design/methodology/approach: A 5-staged systematic literature review with coding and synthesis of findings. The review covers journal articles published between 2000 and 2020 related to the applications of various digital technologies, such as building information modelling, 4D, databases, ontologies, serious games, virtual reality and augmented reality, for addressing safety issues during the design phase in construction.
Findings: Analysis of the articles yielded a categorisation of the digital applications for PtD into four primary areas: (1) knowledge-based systems; (2) automatic rule checking; (3) hazard visualisation; and (4) safety training for designers. The review also highlighted designers’ limited knowledge towards construction safety and the possibility to address this by utilising gaming environments for educating designers on safety management and using artificial intelligence for predicting hazards and risks during design stage in a BIM environment. Additionally, the review proposes other directions for future research to enhance the use of digital technologies for PtD.
Originality: The paper contextualises current digital technology applications for construction health and safety and enables future directions of research in the field to be identified and mapped out.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConstruction Innovation: Information Process Management
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2021


  • BIM, construction safety, digital design, design for safety, prevention through design, safety management.

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Thomas Ashton Institute


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