Injury Prevention in Construction (IPIC)

An icare initiative to support injury prevention in the construction industry.

Why the construction industry?

The focus on the construction industry reflects its status as high-risk, with significantly higher physical injury claims when compared to other industry sectors. This is particularly true for young workers who are more likely to be injured.

Physical injuries that occur in construction and manufacturing organisations result in $384 million of annual claims in NSW, and 45 per cent of these claims come from young workers, aged 19 to 32, according to icare claims data.

Target outcomes

Our goal is to support innovations that impact workers and the industry. 

For young workers and apprentices:  

  • change their behaviour through improved self-management of workplace risks
  • seek out safety education tools, challenge unsafe workplace situations and accept appropriate safety messages from site supervisors
  • develop their careers to become leaders of culture change for safer workplaces and work in safe and healthy ways
  • participate in activities to improve workplace health and safety.

For the construction industry:

  • develop an accessible evidence base of effective Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) training for young workers and supervisors
  • establish best practice virtual reality (VR) safety training experiences to reduce risk-taking behaviour, endorsed and supported by the industry.

The IPIC journey so far

Launched in 2019 by icare, IPIC addresses the rise in physical injuries and associated claims within the construction industry. The initiative targets three key areas to enhance safety:

  1. Individual behaviour
    Focusing on reducing unsafe behaviours and accidents among young and inexperienced workers.
  2. Site management
    Improving supervision and project management to mitigate risks and accidents.
  3. Organisational practices
    Transforming workplace cultures and systems linked to industry accidents and injuries.

Partner Organisations and Projects

  • RMIT University and Master Builders Association (MBA): This collaboration centres on enhancing communication and support between supervisors and workers. A key development is the use of Role-Playing Games (RPGs) in training, which has shown promise in teaching critical interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills essential for the workplace. Early results indicate potential for wider application and scalability.
  • TAFE NSW: Developed a Virtual Reality (VR) training program for working safely at heights. This innovative program combines online learning with VR simulations, enhancing safety knowledge and decision-making skills among apprentices. The success of the program has sparked industry-wide interest in adopting this technology.
  • Housing Industry Association (HIA): Executed a social media campaign titled 'The Common Sensei' to promote site safety among young workers. While the campaign effectively raised awareness, it highlighted the need for comprehensive strategies beyond digital tools to achieve lasting behavioural change in workplace safety.

IPIC has pioneered digital solutions that revolutionise traditional educational approaches in Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) training. These initiatives have proven effective in creating engaging and meaningful learning experiences, setting the stage for ongoing improvement and expansion across the construction industry.

Key learnings and Insights

The IPIC initiative has provided valuable insights into the use of innovative digital solutions for learning and safety in the construction industry. Our experience highlights several critical factors for success:

  • Collaborative design: Successful implementation of emerging technologies requires a co-design approach. By involving industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and other relevant entities, we ensure that our digital solutions meet industry standards, align with best practices, and generate significant demand for widespread adoption.
  • Integration with training programs: While digital tools have shown great potential to enhance engagement and accessibility in safety training, integrating these tools into comprehensive training programs is vital for creating real behaviour change. This integration is a key strategy that training institutions should adopt more broadly.
  • Challenges in digital adoption: Despite the benefits of digital resources, such as adaptability and ease of distribution, several challenges remain. These include Information & Communication Technology infrastructure demands, security concerns with VR technologies, and the ongoing costs associated with creating and maintaining social media content. Overcoming these challenges is essential for the successful scaling and sustained adoption of digital training programs.

As we move forward, addressing these challenges will be key in enhancing the effectiveness and reach of digital safety training across the construction industry.

Digital Role Play Game

Zhang, R.P., Lingard, H., Clarke, J., Greuter, S., Strazdins, L., LaBond, C. and Doan, T. "Supportive communication between apprentices andsupervisors: development of a digital role play game", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management (April 2024).