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Evaluation of the efficacy of a virtual reality-based safety training and human factors training method: study protocol for a randomised-controlled trial
  1. Mikko Nykänen,
  2. Vuokko Puro,
  3. Maria Tiikkaja,
  4. Henriikka Kannisto,
  5. Eero Lantto,
  6. Frans Simpura,
  7. Jose Uusitalo,
  8. Kristian Lukander,
  9. Tuula Räsänen,
  10. Anna-Maria Teperi
  1. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Mikko Nykänen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki 00370, Finland; mikko.nykanen{at}


Background The construction industry has a high risk of occupational accidents and injuries. More randomised controlled trials are needed to identify effective techniques for improving the occupational safety of construction sector workers. New technologies such as virtual reality (VR) offer the potential to develop engaging learning tools for safety training. Although the number of VR applications in occupational safety training is increasing, only a few studies have evaluated the learning outcomes of VR safety training. Furthermore, previous studies indicate that learning to recognise human factors at work has positive outcomes for safety skills. However, there is lack of knowledge regarding the efficacy of human factors-related training in the construction industry.

Objective To evaluate the efficacy and the implementation process of a VR-based safety training and a human factors-related safety training.

Methods In Finland, 8 study organisations and approximately 130 construction sector workers will participate in a randomised controlled trial. The study participants will be randomly assigned to one of four intervention arms: (1) immersive VR safety training alone, (2) lecture-based safety training alone, (3) combined immersive VR safety training and HF Tool training or (4) combined lecture-based safety training and HF Tool training. We will test the efficacy of the safety training processes in these four arms. Randomisation of study participants is stratified by work experience. Baseline assessment will take place before randomisation. The short-term follow-up measurements of all study participants will be conducted immediately after the VR safety training and lecture-based safety training. The study participants will complete second measurements immediately after the HF Tool training approximately 1 month after previous safety training. The second measurement of the intervention arms 1 and 2 study participants will be conducted during the same week as that of the intervention arms 3 and 4 participants, who will not take part in the HF Tool training. Finally, semistructured individual interviews will be conducted to evaluate the learning process.

Outcome measures Outcome measures include safety knowledge, safety locus of control, safety self-efficacy, perceived control over safety issues, safety-related outcome expectancies, safety motivation and safety performance.

Discussion Study results will provide knowledge on the efficacy of VR safety training and human factors-related safety training. Furthermore, study provides knowledge on pedagogical techniques that can be used to guide future intervention plans and development.

Trial registration number ISRCTN55183871.

  • behavior change
  • training
  • outcome evaluation
  • randomised trial
  • occupational injury

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  • Contributors VP is the project leader; MN leads the design of the outcome and process evaluation; MN, MT, VP and HK designed the quantitative and qualitative process evaluation data collection tools and the analysis strategies, and cowrote the manuscript. MN and HK will conduct the outcome and process evaluation. MN, VP, HK, FS, JU and KL jointly developed the educational content of the VR-based safety training and lecture-based safety training. VP, HK and A-MT jointly developed the modified version of the HF Tool training. VP leads the intervention implementation in the target organisations and contributed to the design of the process evaluation strategy. EL and JU contributed to the intervention implementation and the writing of the manuscript and will contribute to the baseline and follow-up data collection. FS lead the software engineering of the VR environments and contributed to the writing of the manuscript. JU lead the 3D modeling of the VR environments and contributed to the software engineering. KL contributed to the software engineering, 2D texture art and the development of the educational content. TR contributed to the research in general. All the named authors contributed to the manuscript and agreed on its final version.

  • Funding This article is based on research supported by the Finnish Work Environment Fund (117306).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The project was approved by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health ethics committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.