Construction induction certification could move online

E-learning has become an acceptable option for many industry training sectors.  In Australia, this industry is still in its early stages.  One of those reasons is that the internet resources are not as extensive as in other countries but the Federal Government began to establish a National Broadband Network (NBN) that should allow better e-learning servicing.

Last week, occupational health and safety inductions were provided with the NBN and e-learning approach.  According to a media statement issued in early February 2012:

“With Australia moving to adopt a national qualification to enable workers to enter a construction site, a project is currently underway to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an immersive 3D computer game to deliver occupational health and safety (‘White Card’) certification training for the construction industry.

This would enable workers to use a training computer game to learn and be assessed for the unit of competency required by the National Code of Practice for Induction for Construction Work, without being compromised by time and place. Importantly, it also allows trainees to gain real world experience ‘on site’ or ‘using’ industrial equipment without exposing them to potential risk.” [links added]

SafetyAtWorkBlog posed some questions to one of the participants of the program, Skills Tasmania, and received the following responses from one of the program partners, Mark O’Rourke, the Educational Advisor of the Curriculum Innovation Unit of the Victoria University:

Many online induction and qualification courses in the construction industry are refused to be recognised because it cannot be verified that the potential ticket holder IS the person who undertook the online course. How does the simulator game confirm the identity?

This requirement differs state to state. We are building the resource which aims to offer engaging relevant training. It is up to RTOs as to how they use the resource and the requirements from Worksafe for delivery of the White Card in each state. At VU there will always be a qualified TAFE teacher overseeing the delivery of the training game.

Construction workers are not famous for their computer literacy. How will FLAG encourage construction workers to participate? Or will this be the focus for State OHS regulators?

Unlike other online systems games based learning does not require a large degree of digital literacy. The game requires you to navigate through a 3D space, but once you have mastered this all other content is delivered to the user in game. Mastering this navigation is integrated in the tutorial section of the game. In addition the game offers different customised experiences, so if you are an avid gamer it will still provide challenging gameplay.

Some States are undertaking increased infrastructure programs on public transport which frequently involves an additional level of induction and qualification in rail safety. Is there any plan to incorporate rail safety training in the online learning?

The game will be specific for the construction industry White Card, but we have built OHS games for laboratory sciences and engineering. We are always looking for more development opportunities – funding is the primary concern.

An “immersive 3D computer game” echoes many of the claims of contemporary video game consoles. Will the simulator games require any additional hardware, such as game control pads?

The game can be used on any computer with a reasonable processor with a keyboard or mouse. Alternatively a game controller could be plugged in and used. We are also developing the game so it can be operated on a 3D TV and portable devices.

Is there a minimum computer hardware requirement for accessing and running the simulation?

Computers with an i5 processor with 2GB RAM run the game well.

Playing computer games on smart phones, tablets and PCs are very different experiences, how will the strategy ensure that the varying comprehension (leading to competence) of each participant will result in a similar, uniform level of qualification?

Porting the game to different devices requires modifying the programming and will result in sightly different user experience. However the learning content of the game is delivered through in game tasks and scenarios-these will remain consistent across delivery platforms. The in-game tasks are mapped against the performance criteria in the Unit of Competency delivered for White Card certification.

Can anyone fail the training program and, if so, what is the process for resitting the training?

The beauty of using games for training is that they strongly align with competency based training in that you undertake in-game tasks over and over until you get them right. Failing the tasks is integral to the learning experience and unlike the real world the catastrophic consequence of making a mistake can be emphasised through explosions, death and injury. You do the tasks until you succeed in the game. You can always come back and play the game a second, third or fourth time.

Do you see the simulation program being undertaken individually (perhaps on a home computer) or in a computer training room with a trainer/facilitator?

State delivery requirements dictate this. In Victoria it will be delivered in the presence of a trainer/facilitator. This does not preclude remote location, or work based delivery.

Could that computer training room scenario be undertaken totally online through NB by means of video-conferencing on online supervision and assistance?

Video invigilation is always an option for delivering training that requires the identification of the trainee. This would require negotiation with Worksafe to ensure compliance.

Are you aware of any countries with a similar OHS legislative structure to Australia where such a program is already operational?

Our focus is on creating engaged interactive learning, and as such the game could be used as a training tool overseas. Legislative constraints always need to be considered in the delivery of any offshore education. As yet I haven’t explored these possibilities.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories construction, education, government, innovation, OHS, safety, technology, trainingTags , ,

9 thoughts on “Construction induction certification could move online”

  1. A game! are you kidding, why do we have to make a game out of everything these days. Safety is serious business, it is not a game. The majority of health and safety trainers have moved into that career due to a workplace injury or incident, the majority are passionate about safety, especially in construction. There is nothing that can take the place of a trainer in the flesh that can identify and assist someone who is not paying attention in class for whatever reason, ask their opinion, involve them in activities, sit them with a wiser person who has been in the game for a while(wise man. Furthermore, who’se to say someones Mother has not completed the assessment for them, or are you going to introduce fingerprint monitoring to rule out that rort. The participants in a course can learn valueable insights into the industry from others in the group who have had experience. This compounds their learning experience.From my experience of a trainer, many times the young guy who turns up to class acting cocky and having a go at safety being a waste of time, and being a general pain in the bum, can become your best friend and have a good understanding and respect by the end of the day aif they are treated appropriately. We need to stregthen safety within construction, not weaken it.

  2. The comments stating that this is a good idea will almost certainly come from individuals that have little or no construction industry experience at all.

    More ,so called, great ideas from the misinformed, ignorant few.This will almost certainly reduce safety awareness rather than increase it and ,as some of us know, construction is no game!!

  3. @Kevin. A very valid point.

    With traditional training methods, if you do not understand something, you can ask the trainer for clarification. With online methods you do not always have this facility.

  4. On 8 February 2012, People & Quality Solutions stated in a media release (soon to be available on their website) that, in relation to their safety awareness training for rail construction projects:

    “The major challenge with the training was that many of our workforce personnel do not use computers. So the training was completed using hardcopy workbooks instead of online. Participants are confronted with a wide range of possible answers to on-site scenarios which reflect varied views and judgments that are neither right nor wrong.

    “The feedback I received from participants was that they enjoyed the personalised coaching and enjoyed the experience of being taken through their responses via their own Advanced Safety & Quality Awareness workbook.”

  5. @OHS.Grad. I concede that pilot training is a valid example and one that has already been proven to be very effective. I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head when you mention that it entirely depends on how the information is presented. A low quality or unreaslistic representation would not achieve the required outcome and may have a negative effect. In addition the employment of an unnecessarily complex interface may also reduce the effectiveness of the ‘game’ and would pose more as a test of hand-eye co-ordination than of the players ability to retain safety information.

    However, even considering the proven track record of flight simulators, I would question their comparison to safety induction games. The context is vastly different. Many hundred of hours in a flight simulator are required for pilot training. What is the planned duration of this safety game? Have the game developers taken into consideration human behavioural tendencies. For example it is widely argued that a task has to be repeated 21 times for it to become a habit. how many times are the tasks within the game carried out? Does this game actually add value to safety training? or is it simply a gimmick?

    It is interesting that you mention the effect that media violence has on de-sensitising younger generations reaction towards safety videos. Media influence is a subject close to my heart, and whilst I do not like the way in which violence, war, crime and other such negative concepts are used for entertainment purposes, your observations are astute. Perhaps we need to ‘up the ante’ with our safety videos and be a little more graphic?

    Following the thread of the younger generation, there is an ongoing trend towards raising the profile of safety to young workers and this is indeed a very good thing. They are, after all, our future.

    Whilst this current trend is aimed at creating a `safety culture` within the future generations by targeting this particular workforce demographic. I believe that safety awareness should be started at a much younger age.

    Culture is something that is shaped from birth. Instilling a cultural safety behaviour is therefore something that should start at a much earlier age. Remember – habits are much easier to create than they are to fix and from the moment of birth everyone is influenced by everything around them. Waiting until working age to start to create a safety culture (in this case read – safety habit) is simply too late.

    Even if safety awareness does become part of the school curriculum the true safety culture that current OHS practicioners are currently promoting is still at a least a generation or two away.

  6. The white card is already extensively available through various providers online in Queensland – the quality of most albeit probably not to the standard that the above would move to. With prices around the $70-$80 mark for VET competency-based training I dare say such an investment might be difficult to justify.

    I think the idea has merit an online can be used effectively as a means of training. Of course it’s not suitable for all participants and face to face has many benefits also. Online training done well has come along way from words and pictures on a computer screen.

    Interestingly enough since the Work Health and Safety Act came into place on Jan 1, Workcover NSW is now accepting cards made online.

  7. I think this induction game could have an overall positive effect, especially with younger workers entering the workforce. Being more interactive than the current construction induction, a game is a different and engaging way to subconsciously absorb information which I believe is an effective way to retain mundane information (the less it feels like learning the better!).

    Although this entirely depends on how the information is presented, if done poorly, the overall message may not be received, and the entire induction could be compromised.

    This is not the first time games have been used to train people in safety, what about pilots in emergency landing tests? It helps people know what to do and when, and it’s effective. People learn from experience and a game creates the perfect safe environment for people to experience what could happen if they do something incorrectly. We learn from our mistakes, but with safety most of the time you only get the one chance. Games take out the hazards and allow a user to learn from multiple mistakes.

    Despite this I think that OHS.Eng.Pro makes a good point, in the seriousness being ‘dumbed down’ and this could create a range of other issues.

    @OHS.Eng.Pro, I think that hard hitting video clips no longer have the effect they once had, yes they can be effective, but I think that the younger generations are more sensitised to seeing things like this on TV and in movies, games are a good way of conveying the same information in a different way which I believe is important in maintaining alertness and hence retention of potentially life saving information.

  8. Unfortunately this could also have the opposite effect in some – a reduction in safety.

    The ‘virtual reality’ created by many video games cannot overcome the layer of separation between the player and the game, This is simply because there is no consequence to getting things wrong in the game. There is no tactile feedback or real world reaction. The result is that the player does not associate the virtual task with its real world counterpart.

    The other issue is that by digitising training into a 3D engine, the whole affair becomes little more than a cartoon, effectively dumbing down the seriousness of the task. This approach might work to keep the attention of teenagers, but I do not think it is appropriate for such a serious matter as life and death safety hazards found within the construction industry.

    What’s wrong with the existing methods such as hard hitting video clips showing real world consequences, or the personal recollections of fortunate survivors to drive the point home?

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