Opportunities and challenges for construction health and safety technologies under the COVID-19 pandemic in Chinese construction projects

Yang Yang, Albert P.C. Chan, Ming Shan, Ran Gao, Fengyu Bao, Sainan Lyu, Qingwen Zhang, Junfeng Guan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in significant delays and cost overrun in construction projects. The implementation of health and safety (H&S) technologies is one of the most important strategies to alleviate the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the construction industry and help the industry adapt to the new normal. This study aims to evaluate the adoption of H&S technologies for pandemic management in the construction sector under the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured interviews with eighteen practitioners engaged from construction companies and technology firms were conducted to collect their views on the driving forces and issues of the adoption of H&S technologies for pandemic management in Chinese construction projects. The results reveal that the major H&S technologies used included the health quick response (QR) code system, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered fever monitoring, and site access control system. These technologies were reported to be effective in preventing the spread of the pandemic in workplaces. The findings of the study amplify that the pandemic may serve as an acceleration of the adoption of H&S technologies in the construction sector. Other technologies, such as building information modeling, drones, AI-based safety monitoring, and robotics, however, were seldom used in the studied projects. The interviewees addressed several problems regarding the implementation of these technologies. High costs of technologies, a lack of client support, and disruptions to the normal work process were the main hurdles of the adoption of these technologies. The results indicated that the external influence factor—the COVID-19 pandemic—could considerably drive the use of H&S technologies, whereas the internal influence factors—cost and compatibility of technology—might be the major barriers to technology adoption. To encourage the wider use of H&S technologies in construction, the government is recommended to support the technology transformation by granting financial subsidies for costs involved in innovation adoption. Project owners may consider investing substantially in H&S technologies that can strengthen their resilient and innovative ability to adapt to the post-COVID-19 landscape. The present results will be useful to industry stakeholders and researchers interested in developing H&S technologies for combating the COVID-19 pandemic and future crises.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13038
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Construction projects
  • COVID-19
  • H&S technologies
  • Innovation adoption
  • Pandemic management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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