Umer Mansoor, chief executive officer of Construction Helpline, is on a mission to make construction sites a safer and efficient place to work. Here, he looks at how new training methods can help improve site safety.

Here at Construction Helpline, our mission is “to provide high quality, timely construction training that keeps the industry safe and forever moving forward.”

Site safety is the ultimate focus for us, and it has been shown that training around behavioural issues can make a big difference.

The more knowledgeable and alert site workers are to potential hazards, the better this can be achieved through modern and robust training. Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility, so knowing what to look out for is essential. 

Falls from height are not the only hazard

Falls from height are still the most frequent cause of fatal accidents at work, according to the latest Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics.

Safety at height must always be a consideration especially in roofing. However, with the rise in Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), roof and floor cassettes can be assembled in a factory and delivered direct to site, reducing the amount of time required working at height.

However, on-site there are plenty of other potential hazards to be aware of, such as:

• Moving objects

• Slip and trip hazards

• Noise

• Vibration from handheld tools

• Manual handling

• Asbestos

• Electricity

• Airborne fibres and materials.

There is a lot to watch out for and having the correct tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job in hand is also important.

So, how can this be taught in a memorable and practical fashion?

Coventry University site simulator

As technology progresses so do training opportunities. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are starting to come to the fore. Both AR and VR are superb training tools.

One of the best-known VR experiences in the UK is Coventry University’s virtual site simulator. The system is used to train site managers and allows students to ‘walk’ through a construction site spotting potential hazards as they go.      

Coventry University also provides real life scenarios with actors putting the trainee site managers on the spot. This level of immersion helps to embed learning because of the realistic nature of the lesson. The advantages of virtual tools are that they offer alternative learning techniques and a broad range of scenarios. It is a safe way to learn from mistakes that could be dangerous if executed on a real live site.

City College Plymouth’s immersive learning project

City College Plymouth has developed a construction site environment using virtual reality technology with the help of CITB funding.

It has projected that 10,000 new jobs will be provided to local construction industry with the help of this project.

I have personally used this demonstration and found it very interactive. I strongly believe that new technologies can be introduced in construction training if major contractors support these initiatives like Kier Living has supported City College Plymouth.

Virtual reality experience

Virtual reality is also being used to train heavy plant operators. When learning to operate large pieces of equipment, it makes sense to have an opportunity to practice virtually before being allowed on-site.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a swift shift towards new ways of working and training online. There are many online training portals, often split across multiple disciplines. They are a great way of delivering virtual training and candidates can take their time and learn at their own pace.

Many online courses have questions built in to check learning at various points, or a selection of tests available to practice on once the learning section is complete.       

By working through these practice tests, it reinforces learning and prepares the individual for the real exam. This testing approach has been shown to help people learn and retain information.

Using a virtual reality experience for training helps to remove behavioural issues that can lead to accidents. By developing responses to real life scenarios, dangerous situations can be avoided.

Learning for a safer future

Training staff is a great way to keep them engaged with the business and ahead of the game when it comes  to safety.

At Construction Helpline we offer four different health and safety courses, which cover the following:

• Safety at height

• Fire prevention

• Manual handling

• Legal responsibilities

• Creating a safe site – risk assessment to improve health and safety • Legislative changes and managing occupational health. 

Umer Mansoor: “I strongly believe that new technologies can be introduced in construction training, if major contractors support these initiatives”

“Using a virtual reality experience for training helps to remove behavioural issues that can lead to accidents. By developing responses to real life scenarios, dangerous situations can be avoided”

www.coporate.constructionhelpline.com