THE USE OF AUGMENTED REALITY FOR SAFETY IN HEALTH: THE EUROPEAN PROJECT ANGELS
According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), every year in the European Union there are 5,720 fatal work-related accidents and millions of people are injured or have their health seriously harmed at their workplace. It is essential that workers and employers be aware of the risks that they face and how to manage them. An effective training program can reduce the number of injuries and deaths, property damage, legal liability, illnesses, workers’ compensation claims, and missed time from work. In fact, the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) study (Choen & Colligan, 1998) based in a literature review focused on occupational safety and health training; showed that the role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities was a proven and successful method of intervention.
The availability of learning programs in this field is crucial to promote a culture of safety at work, developing the workers’ awareness, personal commitment, and responsibility. Nowadays, most companies include these programs in their activities. However, traditionally, this training is very focused on regulatory issues such rules and law articles likely to be perceived as boring, low appealing, and difficult to learn. In this context, the European Consortium called ANGELS (Augmented Reality Network Generating Learning on Safety) emerged to research in this field funded with support from the Lifelong Learning Program (518015-LLP-1-2011-1-IT-LEONARDO-LMP) of the European Commission. The Consortium is formed by a group of public and private organizations in Italy, France, the Czech Republic, and Spain, which with different perspective and specificity, work in education and adult learning projects, and share the aim of bringing innovation and improving effectiveness in lifelong learning process. Specifically, the main goal of ANGELS is to create a training system based on Augmented Reality that provides training on the job, tutoring, retraining and updating about safety and prevention within work environments.
In order to prove the utility of the learning program, the ANGELS project includes two experimental trials (pilot study and large scale trial) to test its efficacy and effectiveness. The assessment protocol will include measures of all dimensions of the learning model, usability measures, participants’ satisfaction, and learning outcomes. The initial version of ANGELS will be tested in the pilot study. This study will be centred on eliminating technical problems and testing the didactical model and usability issues. This will take place on four sites (Italy, France, the Czech Republic and Spain) with approximately 10 “friendly users”/sites working in different Health Services. The users’ feedback will be used to refine the methodology and the software which will then be tested in a large scale “summative evaluation” trial (approx. 25 users/sites), reaching 100 users in the 4 different countries involved in the trial. Results derived from this study may provide important data on the utility of implementation of AR in the field of training in safety at work.