Is e-learning the solution the construction industry needs to help revolutionise safety and awareness training? Jeremy Melhuish investigates
This type of training is fast becoming common practice in the USA, but the UK is still lagging behind.
Recent statistics reveal that the construction industry continues to be one of the most dangerous working environments in the UK.
The most recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report has revealed that the construction industry makes up only 5% of the UK workforce, yet accounts for 22% of the workplace fatalities. In 2013 alone, 49 workers in the UK construction industry suffered fatal injuries, and over 2230 minor injuries were reported. These alarming statistics reveal that the need for improved safety standards in our construction industry is greater than ever.
Over the last twelve months, we have seen industry officials take steps towards improving consistency and regulation across the sector. In July this year, , the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) toughened the criteria to gain a construction work green card that demonstrates the ability to perform basic construction site skills.
Individuals were previously required to pass a multiple-choice test and have an employer’s reference to qualify for a green card. Under the new criteria, individuals are now required to undertake over 40 hours of learning, consisting of much more extensive, construction specific, safety training.
However, much more needs to be done to lift the standards. In an industry where the number of casual workers has doubled over the past two decades, consistency in training presents a real challenge. This is where online training has the potential to fill a crucial gap in the sector, offering a solution for accessible and consistent training at a fraction of the cost and at a fraction of the management time.
Focusing on people and businesses working near water, the WWT Foundation Course is the first e-learning course of its kind focused on improving competency in this increasingly populated environment. It harnesses the flexibility, efficiency, and consistency afforded by online training, aiming to bridge the gap between theory and practice in a work environment that is often overlooked.
One of the key myths attached to e-learning is the notion that distance learning is passive and only benefits one type of learning style. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, e-learning has the potential to actively engage with all three types of learners – auditory, visual and kinaesthetic learners. This makes it more suitable to a wider audience, and allows for a more effective retention rate than a lecture format or providing reading materials alone. Retention rates from e-learning have been shown to be five times higher than traditional instructor-led training due to the fact that learners can progress at their own pace, review and take in information via multiple channels.
The WaterWise Training course utilises a variety of modes to interact with, and actively engage, the learner. The course incorporates film and animation, which creates and portrays the water environment better than an instructor-led session can. It incorporates five highly interactive online learning modules and a final online assessment developed with psychometric validity.
Another popular idea associated with e-learning is that it is taken less seriously than traditional, offline training courses. However, online learning is sweeping the globe, and there is no reason why the construction industry should be left behind. Over 40% of global Fortune 500 companies now use some form of online training and e-learning is expected to grow by 23% over the next three years.
Support from the key bodies in the construction industry will be crucial to the growth of e-learning in the UK’s construction industry. The WaterWise Training Foundation Course has already received support from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and is endorsed by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). Those with a CSCS card will also receive an official endorsement from CSCS upon completion of the course and their employer may be eligible for a CITB grant.
e-Learning ultimately equips employers with the ability to ensure that their employees receive comprehensive and consistent training, offering both a flexible and economical solution. It has the potential to provide the answers that the UK construction industry needs right now, reducing the number of incidents in the workplace and improving health and safety standards for all.
The WaterWise Training Foundation Course is available at www.waterwisetraining.co.uk.