Efficiency and Effectiveness of Site Inductions in Construction - the Methods by Which Site Induction Training Can Be Improved

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Site Induction Training is one of the most commonly used training procedures in the construction industry, as it is used daily on site in order to give workforces a clear indication of Tasks, Site Rules, and Site Procedures. However, the methods by which Site Induction Training has been carried out have been questioned by construction workforces. The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness and efficiency of Site Induction Training, while taking into consideration current methods used for training in construction and promote methods which could be more beneficial for workforces. To gain information on this subject, sixteen detailed questionnaires were completed by current workforces' in the industry. The results highlighted that Boredom, Repetitive Information, Willingness to Participate and Language Barriers all factors of why inductees do not engage efficiently, with "classroom" type training proving to be inefficient to most workforces on site. The results also indicated that, even though from a small sample of participants, there are clearer and more effective methods of Site Induction Training available in the industry in order to keep construction sites safer and to a higher standard, however, in order to be relatable to construction sites today, cost and time must be considered when establishing alternative methods.

Keywords: ["classroom" type training, current methods, efficiency, effectiveness, Site Induction Training].


In this paper, the lead researcher intends to promote methods and create a model to improve efficiency and effectiveness of Site Induction Training (SIT) in construction. This includes investigating methods used currently in SIT, impacts of poor SIT and individuals’ willingness to participate during SIT from completed questionnaires and interviews given by various construction workforces and trades.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires construction companies to be provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the Health & Safety at work of their employees (Health And Safety Training, 2012). SIT is compulsory in construction sites in Ireland and the UK and is an insurance requirement for construction companies. SIT should inform inductees of Site Rules, Fire Points, PPE Regulations, and Welfare Facilities from each site, but research shows that, in most cases, the methods of teaching currently used in SIT are not effective for construction  workforces (Xu, 2019).

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The researcher observed the impact of poor SIT, as from the researcher's personal experience on site, there were many workers who were still unsure to where their Work Areas and Welfare Facilities were located on site after SIT was completed. Currently, in most cases, SIT is given solely through English with no regard for the non-English speaking workforces. Most SIT is thought through Verbal Training, which didn’t account for people who prefer Image-Based or Kinaesthetic Learning. These aspects can lead to new workers, who are unsure and/or confused of Health & Safety requirements after SIT, to cause unnecessary risk and are themselves are a danger in the workplace (Trotto, 2016).

Accidents in the workplace are primarily caused by the actions of individuals. However, those actions are influenced by the safety culture that surrounds individuals (Bahn, 2012). Efficiency and effectiveness of SIT is important to all parties on site, as it minimises risk of breaching Health & Safety requirements. Research shows that "one-size-fit-all’’ (Xu, 2019)  safety training is not efficient in construction, as each person’s learning abilities are unique – this asks a key question - if each construction project is unique, why should all SIT training be the same?

Unwillingness to participate is another aspect affecting site inductions. Research shows that SIT is a mandatory requirement rather than a learning experience (Xu, 2019). This again asks how effective is current SIT and could Personalised Training, Site Tours, Image-Based Training and Participation Methods increase the workforce's cooperation and willingness to learn? Consideration of duration and cost of SIT could play a factor in such solutions which the researcher will investigate further in this project.

Literature Review

In the US, the current standard states that SIT should be carried out for each new recruitment, and annually for existing inducted workers, with recommendations of regular meetings or safety drills with different methods of teaching (Training Requirements in OSHA Standards, 2015). Ireland has requirements for SIT on recruitment, but also is a requirement for new training when introduced to a change of work and/or when the employer introduces new equipment in the workplace (HSA - Tool 6 - Training, 2018). In the UK, under the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers are required to provide training to protect from risk of injury or ill health in the workplace (HSE pt.2, 2018). 

“The importance of safety inductions in the construction industry is an essential component to reduce fatalities and accidents on a construction site” (Docsav Inductions, 2019). SIT should be tailored to the needs of individual workers to ensure that maximum learning capacity is reached (Induction For New Staff, 2015). Research published by inspectors in the UK have identified that new employees and migrant employees can be high risk in construction, especially in the first six months, due to Inexperience, Language Barriers and a Minimal Understanding of H&S standards (HSE, 2018). In contrast to the US, immigrants are involved in far more fatal accidents compared to native workers (Demirkesen, 2015). Asian workers in the North America had a 40% increase of fatal accidents in 2018 (Jones, 2018). The HSE does not have standards for migrant workers to understand the English language or English writing, but Employers have a duty to communicate understandable information to their workforce (Cocerhan, 2018). For these reasons, non-English speaking workforces should be considered during this investigation, so information given during SIT is effectively communicated through all languages.

In contrast, statistics have shown that taking sector, trade, working hours and other aspects into account that migrant workers carry the same risk, if not less risk, as English-Speaking workers (on an English-Speaking site) (HSA, 2015). Other recommendations from the HSE emphasise that the use of language classes for non-English speaking employees on site could improve miscommunication between migrant workers and English-Speaking Managers on site. Also, the use of Translators and using Visual Based Training (i.e. DVD Toolbox Talks, Image-Based signage) would help with the understanding of foreign employees on site (Migrant Workers - Advice - HSE, 2018).

There is evidence that Personalized Training could improve the learning capability in SIT, as it caters for the method by which people prefer to learn by (i.e. Visual or Audio) (Xu, 2018). Using methods such as Learner Models (LM) when categorising a worker’s learning capabilities and strengths formulate a method by which best to train such person(s). This would cater for each person individually rather than a ‘classroom’ (Xu, 2018). The LM would have to take into consideration a worker’s profile, traits, knowledge level, experience, age and understanding (i.e. language) to get an accurate representation of the way which each person can learn most effectively (Xu, 2018). Practical Assessments (Examinations) and Online Assessments have also been discussed to allow Visual Learners to have a more personal method of training, but time and cost would have to be taken into consideration (Bahn, 2012). Virtual Reality (VR) Training has received increasing attention in construction training, as it would encounter workers having to react to certain risks and accidents in a virtual world, informing Inductors and Managers first-hand knowledge of how the workforce will react in high risk situations (Xiao Lia, 2018) but, again, cost would be a high factor  influencing such training method.

Studies have shown “One-Size-Fit-All” training has proven to be sufficient for certain workforces but does not contribute efficiently to all. The historic view of “Classroom Training” to upskill construction workforce has been proven to not cater the skills of many in the industry, as it does not take peoples Attitude, Learning Capabilities, Environment, Understanding and Experience into context in such training methods (Xu, 2018). On the other hand, Mandatory SIT has proven to be successful in construction as it has improved personal safety awareness and has a positive improvement in safety culture (Bahn, 2012). Research also shows that motivational factors in trainees can play a part in SIT, as forced participation and boredom can alter the learning effectiveness of training, thus resulting in workforce not being trained to a higher standard (Tabassi, 2012). Research shows that Refresher Training, completed repetitively can give workers a reminder and a motivation to obey and understand the site rules (Demirkesen, 2015), however, practicality and time would have to be considered in such case.

Studies also show that SIT should include Project Details, Management Details, Site Specific Risks, Site Rules and Site Procedures (HAspod, 2018). Long-winded SIT with repetitive information can cause workers to lose interest during SIT almost immediately (Rodgers, 2018). “A good induction training program covers all aspects of the company thoroughly. It helps new employees become familiar with the organization’s work culture, vision, mission, and goals” (Commlab India, 2016). Having a good SIT system in place could also benefit aspects such as; cost and time, employee turnover, ensuring operations run smoothly, makes new employees feel valued, provides necessary information and helps establish good communication between managers and the workforce (Commlab India, 2016). Xu emphasises; to make training more efficient for workers, it should promote gaining a practical experience using hands-on skills with a short training turnaround (Xu, 2018). For these reasons, SIT duration must be investigated to minimise boredom and unwillingness to participate during training.

The research stated shows that although SIT has proven to be successful to an extent, further methods are needed in order to implement an effective and efficient SIT in today's construction industry. This paper will further investigate further methods in order to establish the best way of maximizing operative’s intake of information in order to improve overall standards of SIT in construction.

Research Methodology

This study used a Qualitative Research Methodology to explore the efficiency of Site Induction Training (SIT) in Construction, using sixteen questionnaires of participants varying from Directors to Managers to Workforce. The questionnaires were completed to compare what each party thought of the methods of SIT used on construction sites, and what they feel would improve SIT standards. The questions were structured with an interview type method, with an explanatory section for their answers. Managers were targeted as they are responsible for improving Health & Safety standards on site and are generally the persons that present the SIT. General Operatives were also targeted as they are usually, most at risk on site and are being trained to the Health & Safety standards.

The questionnaire consisted of fifteen questions. As mentioned, most questions were answered using a Likert Scale, but also “Yes/No” answers with descriptive follow-up questions used to give a personal reason for their answer. Ranking Questions were also used so participants could give their opinion of what they feel would be best aspect(s) in certain situations. The results of each questionnaire were combined taking all parties thoughts on SIT effectiveness into consideration to improve SIT, leading to improving Health & Safety standards and lowering risks of accidents in construction.

The questionnaire was used to analyse the following themes:

(1) - The Necessity of SIT in construction.

(2) - Efficiency of SIT & methods used today.

(3) - Engagement during SIT.

(4) - Duration of SIT.

(5) - Who benefits from SIT?

Results and Analysis

After receiving sixteen completed questionnaires, the researcher combined the information to analyse the results on if SIT is effective in the construction industry. Four Site Managers, four Project Managers, one Engineer, two Ground Workers, one Health & Safety Manager, two Electricians, one Quantity surveyor and two Construction Directors participated in this study. The results were analysed, and the findings clustered into five main themes.

Theme 1 - Necessity of SIT – Information Learned

From analysing the questionnaires, 100% of participants stated that SIT is an important training in construction. SIT helps the workforce to be aware of Site Rules, distinguish who the managers are on site, and shows if the inductees are fit for the job they wish to carry out (i.e. machine drivers have the appropriate medicals and tickets to drive an excavator). SIT also informs workforces of hazardous works and risks on site. 50% of participants feel that they have learned a “good share” of information from SIT with 18.8% saying they have learned “a lot” of information.

All participants also agreed that SIT is necessary for every construction site. Noted opinions said that “every site is different” – with different Site Rules, Regulations, Hazards, etc. being a heavily mentioned topic of why participants feel each site should carry out SIT. It was also stated that SIT is a requirement for Insurance purposes as it highlights H&S regulations.

“If they are done well”, 56.3% of participants believe that SIT can prevent accidents on site. Other participants (31.3%) believe that SIT highly prevents accidents on construction sites. The main Noted Opinions included, similarly to above, stated that SIT shows Emergency Procedures, Site Rules, Hazardous works, etc. which contributes to inductee’s knowledge of risks on site. After calculating the scale of how much safer participants feel after SIT, 7.3 out of 10 was the average answer given.

Theme 2 - Efficiency in SIT - Effective Methods

Regarding efficiency of SIT, 93.8% of participants feel that a better method of SIT can be used to make inductions more efficient. The researcher portrays eight different methods and asked the participants to vote for what they feel would be the most effective when conducting SIT. Ten participants (out of sixteen) voted Site Tours during SIT the most effective method of training inductees, with the other participants voting Site Maps the and Image-Based Learning the second and third best methods. On the other hand, Examination Training and Verbal Training (both methods highly used in SIT today) were the least popular methods of effective SIT, with seven participants ranking both methods their least favourite.

Participants were then asked to rank from one to seven, one being the most effective, which methods they feel would make people engage more during inductions. Inductors asking Regular Questions about SIT information to the inductees was the highest ranked method, with five participants voting it the best method. Again, Site Tours during SIT was highly ranked, with four participants voting it their favourite method. Images-Based Learning was the third favourite method, with three participants voting it their favourite method. In contrast, Examinations Training, again, was ranked the least efficient method by participants, with six people voting it their least favourite. Free Breakfasts were also poorly rated by participants, with five people voting it their least favourite method of improving SIT.

Lastly, Participants were asked to rank the best present methods of different training used today from one to five, one being the best method. Personal Experience had the highest voting, with five people stating it is the best present method, with Toolbox Talks in second with four votes. Interestingly, three out of four UK participants voted CSCS/Safe Pass Training as the best present method, while Irish participants rated it poorly, with one participant stating, “Safe Pass training is suspect”. SIT was the least favourite method, as it was voted the worst method four time by participants.

Theme 3 - Engagement during SIT – The Problems Associated

Participants feel that inductees do not engage efficiently during SIT, with 68.8% stating that inductees “could engage better”. Noted Opinions given by participants explained that boredom, rushing of inductions, anxiousness to start work and inductees being thought “the same induction spiel countless times" (i.e. repetitive information) the main factors to why people do not participate effectively during SIT. Language barriers during induction are mentioned twice by workers in the UK of being a major challenge for engaging efficiently during induction also.  12.5% of people agreed that inductees do not engage at all during induction, while on the other hand, 12.5% stated that they feel people engage efficiently and the final 6.3% of participants stated that people are very engaging.

Theme 4 - Duration of SIT

Participants were asked if they would partake in a longer SIT to benefit their own knowledge and everyone’s knowledge on site. Most participants agreed, with 87.5% stated they would be willing to participate. Participants also feel that it would benefit all workforces if a longer SIT was introduced, with 81.3% agreeing the case. All participants said that SIT should take from 0.0-0.5 hours to 1-1.5 hours. 31.3% voted that inductions should be from 0-0.5 hours, while 50% of participants voted that SITr should be 0.5-1.0 hours. The final 18.8% voted that SIT should be from 1-1.5 hours in length with no participants voting for a longer period.

Theme 5 - Who Benefits from SIT?

When participants were asked who they feel benefits the most from SIT, 54.5% voted for general operatives, reasons stating that general operatives are the main workforces on site and are the ones at most risk when carrying out works. Health & Safety managers were votes second, with 18.2% of the voting. Site Managers and Project Managers shared the same number of votes, with 13.6% each. Noted opinions for this stating for General Operatives that "they are the ones carrying out works on site"


Theme 1 - Necessity of SIT.

From analysing the completed questionnaires, the results show SIT is a vital and necessary part of training in construction, not only for insurance or legal purposes, but a practical purpose also, in order to show workforces specific site rules, risks, emergency procedures, etc. Although most participants feel they have learned a good share of information from SIT, there is still a question mark over SIT in the construction industry. Participants still believe a better, more efficient source of SIT can be achieved to benefit workforces. This asks the question, is the information being thought at SIT repetitive or outdated? And if so, what methods and practical implementations can be put in place to achieve a more efficient training method? 

Theme 2 - Are SIT methods used today Efficient & Effective?

Interestingly, SIT is voted the least effective training method by participants. This highlights huge questions over the method of training currently used during SIT. Also, CSCS/Safe Pass training was voted the most effective method for three out of four participants who are currently working in the UK. Irish participants, however, ranked CSCS/Safe Pass training very poorly, with one participant stating that “Safe Pass training is suspect”. This shows that methods of training differ in effectiveness, as Irish Safe Pass training is classroom based with a very low fail rate, which is a very similar method to SIT used today, while CSCS training in the UK is a theory test type of exam and has a higher failure rate. This, again, asks the question would a theory test type of training be more efficient and effective during SIT instead of classroom training?

Theme 3 - The Problems with SIT – Constructing a Model.

The results show that most workforces find SIT as a chore rather than a learning opportunity. Boredom, Repetitive Information and Anxiousness to begin work all factors highlighted by participants. Language Barriers were mentioned several times also, once by a foreign groundworker worker in the UK. To tackle such issues, the researcher combined both data from the questionnaires with practicality to construct a more efficient and beneficial SIT model. From the data gathered, it shows that using Site Tours, Site Maps and Image-Based Training combined would aid in tackling the occurring issues, as you will see later in the paper.

Theme 4 & Theme 5- General Operatives & Training Duration.

Although SIT is important for every workforce on site, over half of the participants feel that General Operatives must benefit from SIT the most compared to Project Managers, Site Managers and Health & Safety Managers, as they are on site for a lot longer and are carrying most risk when working. Considering this, a structure must be in place to contribute to everyone on site, but mainly General Operatives, so that they absorb as much information during SIT as possible. Information thought must be simple, but effective in that emergency procedures and site rules are understood by all languages and parties being inducted. Duration of Inductions must be considered to tackle boredom and unwillingness to participate. One participant also mentioned a Refresher Course so inductees to be reminded of site fundamentals.


This paper considers the effectiveness and efficiency of SITr in the construction industry. Results from the participants interviewed show that in their experience, effective SIT is not being delivered currently on the sites where they work with minimal learning achieved due to boredom, repetition of the same information in the same format and language barriers.

Improvements which would enhance experiences in SIT could include:

- Visual Learning using Descriptive Images and Videos give a clear understanding of Procedures and Site Rules to workforces to tackle Language Barriers of foreign workforces.

- Site Tours carried out by fully qualified Inductors would give Inductees a clear understanding of issues such as Pedestrian Routes, Site Rules, Emergency Procedures and Welfare Areas on site before beginning work to tackle boredom and repetitive "classroom training".

- Ideally, SIT should be between an hour to an hour and a half in length, as participants begin to lose interest after a longer period, as stated in the questionnaires. Being strict on a time limit whilst ensuring the information is effectively communicated to inductees would minimize long winded SIT, Repetitive Information being thought and Boredom.

- Site Maps given to Inductees after SIT is completed, with clear locations of work, Emergency and Proletarian Routes and Welfare Facilities shown clearly. This would aid workforces locate aspects on site, tackling confusion and again, language barriers for foreign workforces. Maps must be continuously updated so the aspects of the site are located accurately.

- The use of Refresher Courses could also be considered, as it would remind workforces the different aspects on site. As information can be forgotten over time, the use of refresher courses would inform and/or workforces of new Site Rules, Procedures, etc.

Interestingly, there was very little difference in information from participants from different work backgrounds, with all participants agreeing that SIT is an essential part of training in construction.  Participants from Manager and Operative levels felt that boredom and methods of SIT used today could be replaced by more efficient, relatable methods of training such as those listed above.

Further in-depth studies of SIT are required, with a larger sample of participants expressing a wider array of opinions, giving a greater insight into possible methods that could further increase learning and standards in the construction industry.


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