3D visualization to enhance construction safety training for Hispanic construction workers

Hispanic workers are more than twice as likely to be killed in an accident because there isn’t a lot of training, said Carla Lopez del Puerto, a construction professor at CSU.

The university’s construction department is looking to decrease that number. Assistant Professors Caroline Clevenger and Carla Lopez del Puerto have developed a 3D animation program catered to Hispanic workers in the construction industry.

“The motivation was for Hispanic workers, there isn’t a lot of training, it’s hard for low-education workers to read,” said Professor Carla Lopez del Puerto. “We had to find a way for them to understand the information.”

As construction sites become more diverse, effective training of minority construction workers is a growing concern.

According to their research, visualization is critical to enhance learning in physical sciences like engineering or construction since 85 percent of people learn by sight.

Currently, that isn’t happening with non-English speaking laborers. 3D visualization and interactive, non-verbal simulation enhance learning and can facilitate training, said Clevenger and Lopez del Puerto in their research report.

“We took a model from industry. We used a program called Captivate, which allows us to view software and capture a video of using it,” Clevenger said.

The training module is based on one created by Mortenson Construction. The model was originally built using a Google program. This model is viewed as a 3D animation, involving a sequence of scenes to illustrate discrete construction stages and associated with each of those scenes are required or recommended safety practices and procedures.

The animation is then captured and presented as an interactive training module using advanced software. The interactive training module incorporates visual and audible narratives to enhance learning. The authors chose to rely on digitally recorded voice-over by a native Spanish speaker to increase the understanding of the instruction.

Lopez del Puerto’s main research area is construction safety management. She is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outreach trainer and has trained over 500 students and professionals about construction safety. She is also a native Spanish speaker and oversees both the technical and linguistic accuracy of the training narration.

The program is made to be site-specific. Each construction site has its own model specific to the site. The professors worked on the program for a couple months at the university with minimal costs.

“The theory is that the more you know about safety, the less likely you are to get in an accident,” Clevenger said.

The next phase of this research will consist of conducting a pilot test of the wall assembly model with Spanish speaking construction workers. Construction companies in Denver with established relationships with the Department of Construction Management at CSU will provide access to job sites to conduct pilot testing.

“We have a current grant, so we haven’t yet trained any workers but we’re in the implementing phase,” Clevenger said. “We hope to, by the end of this year, train about 30 workers and see if it increases understanding of safety.”

In 2010, a total of 4,547 fatal work injuries occurred in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Collegian Writer Candice Miller can be reached at news@collegian.com.