The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has launched a new personalised Contractor Safety Management (CSM) Program committed to the safety of its workforce and contractors, with the support of Area9 Lyceum’s e-learning platform Rhapsode.
The company’s new approach to contractor safety comes as part of its long-standing commitment to safety and the communities it works in.
James Kennedy, ARTC’s Program Manager for the CSM Program has a career spanning more than 25 years in the construction industry and knows first-hand the imperative of safety on the job site.
“We want people to go home safely, and we endeavour to embed an emotional attachment to safety across our workforce rather than take an impersonal compliance-based approach,” says Kennedy.
“Everyone has a story that relates to safety – it might be about an injury at home, it might be about a friend or an associate that’s been injured at work, or someone who’s had a serious incident and their family is still dealing with the fallout.
“By sharing and reflecting on real-life stories, we link the emotional response to driving the right behaviours in workplace safety.”
After identifying a gap in contractor safety, ARTC recognised the CSM Program needed to produce a behavioural shift for its employees, as well as equip them with the knowledge, skills and tools to set contractors up for success.
“As a company that embraces technology to drive learning outcomes, ARTC jumped at the opportunity to improve safety by again leveraging technology,” Kennedy says.
Renee Andary, Head of Capability at ARTC, says the company’s passion for technology and innovation was recently recognised when it was awarded Best Use of Gamification/Simulation for Learning and nominated for Best Blended Learning Solution at the 2022 Australian Institute of Training and Development Awards.
“On the back of the success of our award-winning Non-Technical Skills program, the opportunity to further innovate in the design of this safety critical program led us to partner with cloud-based adaptive-learning software provider Area9 Lyceum in 2021,” says Andary.
Built on 25 years of cognitive research, Area9 Lyceum’s four-dimensional learning platform Area9 Rhapsode stood out to ARTC for its adaptive, personalised e-learning capabilities.
“Rather than typical e-learning which operates like a PowerPoint presentation with questions inserted after learning material is delivered, the Rhapsode platform is far more powerful in that it still does the presentation type work, but the adaptive learning also prompts questions suited to the learner’s development needs,” Kennedy says.
“The AI identifies for each learner their competency through the course and adjusts in real time to support their development to achieve proficiency, whether they are a novice all the way through to an expert – the program will select the relevant learning material based on their experience and knowledge.”
For instance, Kennedy says if the learner nominates themselves as a novice, Rhapsode will take them through all learning material at a steady pace before prompting questions. If the learner nominates themselves as an expert, Rhapsode will limit the theory and proceed quickly to the question set to make for a faster learning experience that confirms the learner’s competence. Between both ends of the scale, the program adapts based on the learner’s individual competency in real time.
Dr Khurram Jamil, President – Global Markets at Area9 Lyceum says Rhapsode takes a scientific approach to achieve the best possible learning outcome for each individual by measuring the impact of training and addressing how different people learn.
“Area9 Rhapsode guides you step-by-step through course content and adapts along the way, allowing each learner to speed through things they already understand and focus on the content they are less proficient in,” Jamil adds.
“The adaptive learning platform puts people on the path to proficiency, rather than taking them through ineffectual, disengaging training for the sake of ticking a box.”
Using Rhapsode, ARTC designed a full blended learning campaign, comprised of five e-learning modules followed by a final face-to-face training module delivered by Paul Blake, Learning Advisor – Contractor Safety at ARTC.
Blake says the program has a focus on all of the technical aspects around legislation, obligations, concepts of principal contractors, safe work method statements and safety management plans, but there’s much more to it.
“Beyond the technical side of safety, the behavioural side is just as important, and this program really leans into each individual’s emotional and personal connection to safety,” Blake says. “When people take safety seriously in their day-to-day work, they don’t deflect or put the blame on someone else, they take ownership.”
“That’s what this program is all about – setting a new culture and placing just as much importance on behavioural training as we do technical training.”
As well as each learner receiving their results upon completion of each module, Blake also receives a report from Rhapsode to help streamline the face-to-face module of the program. These detailed results enable him to identify which learner needs more training or help in individual areas enabling him to tune the training accordingly.
Further, Kennedy says Rhapsode has removed the need to cover the theory in the classroom and allows the trainer to focus on team-based exercises in an engaging, interactive format – a far more enjoyable and impactful experience for learners.
“When we bring people into the classroom, the last part of the program, we’re able to focus on behavioural messaging, team activities, and exploring scenarios and case studies – this results in a far richer session with people putting safety into practice, rather than the trainer lecturing on technical theory,” Kennedy says.
In its scenario-based learning, ARTC has created and included aural narration, written notes and video-based scenarios in the adaptive e-learning modules which Blake says activates the learners’ thinking process before unpacking each scenario with the class.
“The scenarios are great because when they do come into the classroom it’s nothing new to them, it’s just that we’re going to expand on it and unpack it a little bit more,” Blake adds. “It provides a platform for collaboration and discussion which in turn brings out personal stories and evokes emotion in what safety means to each individual.”
The ARTC team has been open to feedback and has provided participants an anonymous online survey from the program’s inception to gain unfiltered feedback. Kennedy says the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
“We have followed a continuous improvement approach to adapt quickly to suggestions for improvement and tailor the learning experience to get over the learning curve as quickly as possible,” Kennedy says. “Thanks to participant feedback we addressed any issues promptly to refine both e-learning and face to face training – the program flows quite seamlessly now.”
ARTC has also seen significant improvements in contractor safety since the program was launched, with its leaders observing staff being much more proactive and taking greater ownership in setting contractors up for success.
“Contractors are feeling better supported and are reporting better relationships with their contractor managers,” Kennedy says. “Teams are working better together to identify hazards before they turn into incidents, and what that’s translating into is fewer incidents, safer and happier workplaces, and increased trust and transparency.”
“People feel calmer when they’re on site, it’s not as frantic, planning is more thorough, and if things don’t go to plan, they’ve got the bandwidth to deal with it.”
In addition, Kennedy says ARTC has seen an improvement in Total Reportable Injury Frequency Rates and a general reduction in work health and safety incidents across all operations.
“Improving leading indicators such as hazard identification activities and safe work interactions confirm the increase in proactive activities being delivered by ARTC personnel,” he says. “It’s a sure sign that ARTC is moving in the right direction when it comes to safety maturity.”