Developing Online Health and Safety Training for Staff

Facilitators Paula Kierans & Paula Hawkins, Health and Safety Office
Discipline Health and Safety
Subject Manual Handling
Level New DCU Staff
Class Size Varied
Mode of Delivery Online


What was the challenge you faced?

  • Assessment of manual handling tasks and the provision of suitable training is a legal requirement with which DCU needs to comply. The Health and Safety Office (HSO) fulfils this function. In 2019, a training needs assessment for the university identified that insufficient staff members in DCU had current manual handling training.
  • The university offers orientation twice a year for new staff and they are offered manual handling training at this. However, a half-day manual handling training was required; it was unwieldy to organise this as part of new orientation as a maximum of 12 staff at once can participate in this face-to-face training.

What was done?/What did you do?

  • A decision was taken that an online Manual Handling Training Essentials course would suffice for most staff, who are academic/office-based support staff. This online course would be backed up by practical demonstration of safe manual handling.
  • We prepared a course outline indicating what was to be covered. We decided video content was the most appropriate medium for this online course so we wrote a script for it. We contacted Mark Glynn in the Teaching Enhancement Unit (TEU) for guidance around this video development. He suggested trying out the Green Room studio in the Bea Orpen Building, complete with HD cameras, green screen backgrounds and high quality microphones. He also suggested hosting the course on Loop as all staff have Loop accounts and their engagement could be tracked and verified.
  • The TEU staff provided assistance in how to use the studio equipment in Bea Orpen. However, after a trial with the equipment it was clear that the expertise to create a visually engaging video did not exist in the HSO. Shots, such as safe lifting techniques, were complex to capture on static cameras.
  • We decided to do location shooting on campus to create visually engaging content and demonstrate correct techniques safely and in different environments. We sourced an independent camera operator and booked some time in various campus locations. We sought staff volunteers from the Library, the Faculty of Science and Health and Security. The camera operator filmed staff carrying out manual handling tasks in DCU locations and the HSO staff demonstrating safe lifting techniques. Voiceovers were performed by HSO staff and recorded in The Helix.
  • We then contacted the TEU again for recommendations for an external video editor to splice the clips and add additional assets. We were delighted to hear the expertise existed in-house. Rob Lowney from the TEU took the recorded footage, voiceovers and stills and edited it to create a 25 minute training video. On Rob’s suggestions we decided to break up the video into five smaller videos, and using the H5P interactive content tool on Loop, added questions at points through each one, which must be correctly answered by learners to allow advancement. It was also decided that the playback of the videos would be locked so it is not possible to skip sections. This ensures learners engage fully with all content.
  • Prior to uploading on Loop, the DCU marketing department added university branding and stock footage to the training to further enhance the visual effectiveness of the footage.
  • The course completion features were enabled on the Loop page so that once learners watched all videos and answered all questions correctly they would be deemed to have completed the course. A dynamic Loop report allows the HSO staff to easily identify who has completed the course and who has not.

How did it work for you?

  • As of January 2021, 172 staff members have been enrolled on the online Manual Handling Training Essentials course and this has been followed by a 30 minute practical face-to-face manual handling demonstration. This has reduced the time required to train a low risk staff member from 3.5 hours (face-to-face) at orientation to 1 hour (online and practical demonstration) in total.
  • The success of the online Manual Handling Training Essentials course has led the HSO to explore online training for other matters.
  • In March 2020 the campus closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was recognised that when the campus was to reopen staff would have to be provided with suitable return to campus training providing information on how the workplace would be managed to control the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Again the HSO sought advice from the TEU and to discuss the best way to present and manage the training. As the HSO was now familiar with the management and administration of Loop and it was available for all staff and students it was the obvious choice.
  • This training was created using a PowerPoint presentation and a voiceover from the Health and Safety Advisor and recorded on Zoom. There were two training courses created:
    • Staff Returning to Campus Training;
    • COVID-19 Coordinator Training.
  • The Staff Returning to Campus training was mandatory for all staff before they were permitted to return to work on campus. As such, the TEU advised that self-enrolment of staff on Loop would considerably reduce the administrative burden. The link to the training was sent to all staff and they could enrol themselves and select their school/unit. The HSO generated reports for unit/school heads on request.
  • COVID-19 Coordinator was a new role created to assist in enforcing COVID-19 mitigation in their schools/units. Loop enrolment was via request to the HSO. This was so the HSO could oversee the appointments to ensure the campuses were sufficiently covered.
  • As of January 2021, 1,900 staff have completed the Staff Returning to Campus training and 250 have completed the COVID-19 Coordinator training on Loop.

Tips for implementing this practice

  • When developing video content, detail your storyboard in advance of any filming. Unfortunately we wasted some time during the shooting of manual handling training as we had not detailed scenes and transitions sufficiently enough prior to starting to record the footage.
  • Liaise with the video editor prior to any recording. We found that had we spoken to the editor in advance we would have had different shots and options. It made the editing process a little more challenging.

Reflections and future plans?

  • Online training has been a recent departure for the HSO and is certainly a welcome one. It has enabled us to deliver training more efficiently, to large numbers of staff and to track and verify their engagement. We have developed our own capacity to use Loop effectively and for future training needs we will continue to consider online options with Loop.




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