Virtual Reality- The Next Frontier in Safety Training

Virtual reality-based safety training is drastically minimizing workplace fatalities.
Article by: Ashwini Hajare | On: November 7th 2017 | In: Training & Learning, Virtual Reality

Virtual reality-based safety training is drastically minimizing workplace fatalities and making industrial, manufacturing, and construction sites safer.

Construction, assembly, manufacturing, mining, deep-sea exploration – take any industry, workers’ safety is always a prime concern. According to a report by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – Department of Labor (USA), 4,836 workers were killed on the job in 2015. Out of this 21.4% or 1 out of 5 workers died in construction. The numbers have only been escalating since.

The Implications

In addition to the emotional trauma suffered by the worker and their families and the social costs, workplace injuries have a major impact on an employer’s bottom line. It is estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. Not to mention, the reduced moral amongst other employees and perhaps lower efficiency. (Source: Osha)

Looking at the figures, it is imperative that there is a dire need for ensuring employee health, safety and security while on the hazardous jobs. Every worker has a right to a safe and secure workplace. Fortunately, the emergence of VR /AR/MR provides us with uniquely powerful conduits for safety training and education. Many big players are already investing in VR for safety and hazard training to minimize casualties. Here are a few cases from different industries:

VR simulation for safety training in building construction

Safety Training

VR in Construction – “Fall” safety measures to build

At construction sites, death by fall is the most common fatality. Safety is an age-old problem in construction. An immersive VR simulation of the construction site shows workers how and where to be precautious.

Imagine you’re a construction operative who is being trained in a fully immersive simulation featuring diverse real-world scenarios. VR is designed to give you different perspectives on the same potentially hazardous situation to provide a holistic understanding of the entire constructions site, charting out the unsafe territory. The entire experience is designed to prevent on-site accidents through improved training. This is made possible with VR construction technologies like Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Quite a few notable construction companies are already rolling out VR for construction safety training. Amongst these are Bechtel and Hong Kong-based firm, Gammon Construction Limited.

After implementation Safety Manager Kwok Wai-yin of Gammon said, “This training has successfully drawn trainees’ attention, stimulated their responses and attained mutual communication, which is more effective and convincing than lectures. Besides, it has changed their mode of thinking, boosted site safety and getting us closer to the zero harm goal.”

Virtual Reality simulation to train miners without actual risks

Safety Training

VR in Mining – Know the drill

Australia’s UNSW School of Mining Engineering has incorporated VR in their training modules. It simulates scenarios like an escape from potentially fatal outburst events in a longwall mine. It is revolutionizing education by giving students an opportunity to practice responding to a hazardous situation in an immersive simulated terrain. Students have the freedom to make mistakes and learn without having to face the actual risks.

Deep-sea drilling and exploration companies can now safely train their workforce without bearing the cost of actually taking them to the bottom of the sea.

VR scenario depicting emergency fire in the engine room of a naval ship

Safety training

VR in Defense (Army, Navy, Air-force) – Safer means to protect

Critical Navy, Air-force and military operations require intensive planning, preparation, and training to ensure safety and success. For training naval cadets on highly sensitive, skilled jobs and ensuring safety in operations, Naval Engineering Academy partnered with Ethosh to create realistic, interactive, and collaborative custom environment of a simulated ship & machines for situational scenarios like fire in the engine room, generator, air-compressor, boiler blast etc. VR safety training ensures maximum impact on the learners, knowledge absorption and reduced time to learn, making high-risk training achievable and cost-effective.

VR in Power Stations – Empowering workforce

UK’s Eggborough Power Station, partnering with Arithmetic and Transmission TX  created an immersive VR training experience that simulates the real-life hazardous environment in the coal-fired power plant, to train the workers and prepare them for similar situations that they might face in real life.

VR in Chemical Plant Processing

Training with Human-machine interface In 2016, Invensys launched its Immersive Virtual Reality Plant (IVRP), a “human-machine interface” that allows plant personnel to be exposed to simulated critical situations and to interact with them in a realistic, yet completely safe manner. IVRP has reduced the accident rate through interactive training in fully realistic scenarios that gives immediate feedback.

Safety has always been paramount in industries with the potentially dangerous work environment. The immersive power of VR delivers training in stimulating ways that ensure workers learn. It suggests a new approach to educating people about safety. Be it working in mines, deep diving to sea bottom for oil drilling, operating cranes on a construction site, to nuclear power plants; virtual reality is proving extremely useful for health and safety training in every aspect.

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