International Construction Specialty Conference of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (ICSC) (5th : 2015)

New multimedia safety education program : impacts on emotions, risk perceptions, and learning Bhandari, Siddharth; Hallowell, Matthew


Safety training is a vital component of any construction organization’s safety program. Training offers an opportunity for the transfer of explicit and tacit knowledge of safe work practices. Often, safety training focuses on core issues faced by the specific organization and links to desired worker behaviour. Unfortunately, the typical delivery modes involve PowerPoint presentations, written safety protocols, and classroom-style settings. Such teaching modes do not facilitate active, inductive, context-based learning that is essential for effective andragogy (i.e., adult learning) and, therefore, often fail to achieve their desired objectives. This study tests the hypotheses that a new method of risk-free safety training, Live Safety Demos, increases engagement through emotional response to training activities. The technique involves demonstrating the cause and effect of actual injuries to human hands, which are the most commonly injured body part in construction. The delivery of the demos include the following key components: (1) biologically-realistic replicas of human hands that include flesh, bones, and blood networks; (2) in-person demonstrations of common injuries to worker’s hands (e.g., pinch-points between sections of pipe); (3) videos showing injuries to the replicas recorded at over 2100 frames per second to show detail; and (4) worker-led activities to design work practices that would prevent each injury type. The research was achieved with a team that included one faculty member, three students, a senior manager from the owner organization, four safety managers, and an English-to-Spanish translator. To test the aforementioned hypothesis, the research team used field-validated methods from experimental psychology to measure emotional response to the training program. Using a longitudinal A+B experiment, the demos were tested over the course of a one-week period with approximately 1,200 workers who belonged to approximately 100 crews. The results indicate a very strong emotional response to the Live Safety Demos with statistically significant changes in almost every emotion category. There was a significant increase in negative emotions, which is known to increase risk perception and decrease risk tolerance. Increase in induced activating emotions lead to a more engaged learning commitment during safety training, which increases the ability of workers to recognize more hazards. Thus, this research shows that live safety demos, although resource-intensive, has the potential to transform safety training in the construction industry. Future research is suggested to broaden the sample population and to test additional elements such as retention levels, duration of these induced emotions, communication networks, and ability to respond ad hoc to new safety environments.

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