June 3, 2020

Safety without borders: has Covid-19 strengthened the case for blended learning?

Windpower’s critical workforce can benefit from blended learning solutions, which combine online solutions with courses taken in person say experts

The case for blended online learning strengthened this week, following comments by HSE leadership from wind service contractors and training providers. In the fourth edition our Expert Webinar Series – Training in the Pandemic, we heard from Muehlhan Wind Service and AIS Training about the challenges of sourcing and delivering training in a post Covid-19 environment.

At Muehlhan, Jonathan Murray, Project Manager and Nicholai Güldner, Interim Head of Operational HSE/Rope Access Manager, told attendees the company never stopped working during the Covid-19 pandemic. As their business is considered critical for infrastructure, they worked normally, with some restrictions.

The main obstacle that they encountered was to find ways to train the new technicians that were preparing to join the wind workforce in the annual peak season of operations (summer). “Uncertainty in Europe about country-border crossing created some problems since some teams were not able to meet on site abroad” added Nicholai.  

From Muehlhan’s point of view, the potential adoption of more blended learning approaches, such as virtual settings for the theoretical parts of the training could be a solution to avoid a complete stop in training during emergency situations like during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jonathan Murray explained: “For sure there is a difference between a virtual and a physical classroom, especially for the new technicians that have never done any similar courses before. However, more experienced technicians who need to do refresher courses, may find it easier to follow an online course for the theoretical parts.”

AIS Training told the webinar of its similar opinion on the matter: Paul Knowles, VP for Training for AIS and Survivex, and Gavin Taylor, Commercial Director, said that virtual learning would help alleviate the pressure on training facilities and classrooms dimensions.  

For the practical elements of training, AIS Training planned together with some of their clients during the weeks of complete lock down in the UK.  

They implemented several measures for a safe reopening, taking inspiration from a careful study of the service industry best practices (such how the supermarkets were protecting their employee with screens and making distances being respected with stickers on the floors).  

We tried to learn from the industry itself, like the supermarkets since they were one of the few that remained opened during the lock down. We studied the evolution of their measures to allow social distancing and prevent contacts between the people and by collecting those ideas we adopted and adapted the best of their solutions for our facility as well. -Paul Knowles, AIS Training

The Expert Series Webinars have provided GWO Training Providers with a platform to share best practice and innovation as they emerge from the Covid-19 Lock down. The series helped to identify common practices and ideas that keep instructors, staff and employees safe in this new environment.