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Your Environment. Your Health.

WisdomTools, Inc.

WETP Cooperative Agreement Awardee

Project Title

Green Construction CoP: Using Immersive Stories/Case Studies to Address Silica Exposure in Green Construction (Green Construction CoP)

Principal Investigator / Institution

Sonny E. Kirkley
Tel (812) 856-4202
Fax (812) 961-2991
WisdomTools, Inc.
501 N. Morton St. Suite 206
IU Research Park
Bloomington, IN 47404 

Program Description

This SBIR project, Green Construction Community of Practice: Using Immersive Stories/Case Studies to Address Silica Exposure in Green Construction (Green Construction CoP), will design and develop an innovative advanced training technology (ATT) to address the need for accessible and up-to-date best practice information to reduce exposure to hazardous materials in green, as well as in traditional, building projects. Phase I of this SBIR project will focus on training to reduce operating engineers' exposure to respirable silica dust, one of the most prevalent and harmful exposures in both green and traditional construction projects. Exposure occurs through a wide variety of construction tasks, from masonry and concrete grinding/demolition to cabinet construction. Exposure to unsafe levels of silica has been linked to increased risk of silicosis of the lungs (Ng and Chan,1992), lung cancer (Heckoway, et al, 2005) and rheumatoid arthritis (Stolt, Kallberg, Lundberg, Sjogren, Klareskog, & Alfredsson, 2005). Given the seriousness of the health risks as well as the large numbers of persons exposed to the risks, the need for effective training is clear. Moreover, with the infusion of significant public funds into the creation of "green" jobs - with 1 of 4 estimated to be a construction job (District of Columbia, 2009) - the need becomes even more pressing. With these concerns in mind, the Green Construction CoP will develop a Web-based platform comprised of three main components: 1) Green Construction Scenario, an ATT learning solution that leverages context-based learning methods, embedded resources, media, and learning activities; 2) Green Technology Expert Wiki, a publicly accessible and embedded resource within the Green Construction Scenario, which will house vetted and updated information on risk exposure-reduction strategies and provide a community forum for authorized users to contribute personal case studies; and 3) Instructor Guidelines, which will assist HAZMAT and health and safety trainers in effectively and efficiently integrating Green Construction CoP into existing training.


Through the use of user participatory design, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, usability testing, online surveys, and learning gains/attitudinal change analysis, this Phase I effort will examine questions related to the technical and implementation feasibility of Green Construction CoP, including: 1) What content on green construction safety and silica-based building materials and exposure reduction is the most critical for operating engineers?, 2) What features and functionalities are needed to support easy access and retrieval of information?, and, 3) Does the use of a blended and context-driven learning approach produce a net positive increase in learner knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) as compared with KSAs before the training course?


PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: By designing and developing Green Construction Community of Practice - an innovative, context- and community-based training program that provides awareness-level health and safety training and information in green and traditional construction - this overall SBIR project will improve construction worker knowledge of safe work practices and reduce personal exposure to hazardous materials, thus improving worker health and safety. Phase I content will focus on containing and reducing exposure to crystalline silica dust, a common hazardous material found in both green and traditional building projects, and Phase II will broaden the number of hazardous materials addressed as well as explore use of a mobile device as an additional vehicle for dissemination. Instructor guidelines will be developed to allow HAZMAT trainers/instructors to easily integrate this training solution into existing courses in order to meet their learners' specific needs.

Project Duration

  • August 21, 2007 - July 31, 2011

Grant Numbers

  • R43ES019011

Other Participating Organizations

  • None

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