For decades, the safety of construction workers have been compromised due to the lack of an immersive environment training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, ‘Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Data and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, workers in the construction industry suffered nearly 200,000 nonfatal injuries and over 1,000 fatal injuries in 2018’. The shocking data reveals a feeling of uncertainty of life in the construction sites and urges the industry to conduct better training to educate and empower the workers over safety protocols. A viable solution that enables effective real life training using virtual reality in construction without putting the life at risk.
How will Virtual Reality work?
Due to immense marketing by major players, people are now familiar with the concept of virtual reality in games and entertainment including visiting exotic tourist destinations, virtually. With expansion of scope of this technology, it has now reached a point where VR should not confine its brilliance to only gaming but spread across various industrial uses. Major advancements have already been made in using virtual reality in the Automotive and Healthcare industries. But how effective will it be in improving the effectiveness of safety training at construction sites?
Virtual Reality simulates real-world scenarios to develop methodologically trained individuals. An example is the training of pilots in managing various situations while flying. Let us see what are the benefits of implementing VR in construction safety training.
The advantages of VR in eliminating fatal hazards from construction environment
- Safer training environments– Unlike popular belief, threat to safety of a construction worker is not just during the construction of high-rise buildings and towers. The risk is equivalent even while moving massive quantities of drywall, iron and steel from one place to another or working with construction machineries and heavy-duty vehicles like excavators and cement mixers, electric wiring and fencing etc. Keeping the workers safe means to offer a realistic training, recreating not just scenarios but sensations and emotions. Using Virtual Reality, the workers can be trained in a controlled environment which is inexpensive, safe and accurate and equip them to handle the threat faced in real life.
- No restriction to limitations– At present, a comprehensive training program requires heavy expenditure in terms of infrastructure, machinery, hiring of training professionals etc. Along with these, there are limitations of the physical world that can cause a severe threat to life and property in case of accidents or mishaps which arise as a part of the training. VR training on the other hand, promises to be an alternative that puts people at advantage. VR safety training module can simulate the exactness of realistic sensation of height, stress, distraction and even addresses mental and emotional hazards that are often missed in the training process. Multiple threatening situations can be simulated and training can be repeated to make sure every trainee is qualified to handle the situation, if it arises.
- Customised occurrences– Virtual Reality experiences are built using great frameworks like Unity and Unreal engines. This provides the added advantage of customization within environments such as elements, presence etc. With just a few changes, a completely new environment can be created thereby not needing to physically or manually contributing to recreate the safety conditions. The concept of VR in safety practices also aids custom-made training to prepare the workers against every possible scenario. It is an efficient way of saving both time and money resulting in saving lives.
- Risk analysing– Not just in training and practising safety protocols, but VR can help experts analyse the depth of risk which a person might be facing in a particular situation This enables a robust forecast to make appropriate safety arrangements for the worst. Risk analysis is a conspicuously vital trajectory of safety guidelines and risk management. In the absence of risk calculation, there remains zero to none predefined factors that could have been nullified. It would also provide time to set reasonable measures to be adopted while working in hazardous conditions. Quite obvious, learnt reflexes help save life and VR is an excellent solution to practice the safety drills and make it a muscle memory.
- Scrutinizing of training guidelines- Of course, a guideline is meant to be followed and was prepared keeping in mind various situations and how people would react to it. VR helps to frame the blueprint of those guidelines depending upon the re-created scenarios. There are actions and reactions that are produced with every situation and based on those, forced regulations can be introduced. This being a trial and error method, is not feasible to be recreated in reality.
- Retention of training– Knowledge acquisition and retention is followed by people in their day to day lives without them knowing about it. This is how people function in their daily lives and make a routine. Virtual Reality training can be the one stop solution that provides retention of training. By repeating the training module, it can be extremely beneficial to workers during unpleasant situations. The issue aggravates some serious measures and VR referred training will help figure out the non obvious perspective. As the saying goes, practise makes a man perfect.
- Controlled environment– Unlike in an onsite training procedure, VR training programs can be performed in a room, with safety precautions for small to minimum damage and within controlled environments. This is the key feature of VR safety training. Other than the calculated risks no other kind of unpleasant circumstances can occur to deter the workers from working. Every situation is then processed and analysed accordingly to take initiatives to avoid such scenarios. Workers can even practise various scenarios that they think will evoke bad decision making in them and help themselves overcome these situations.
The technological breakthroughs that VR has brought into various industries are life changing. The unreal aids the real. An immersive virtual world can create an environment that can help in giving real life inputs and study the output by the individuals. This can prove life saving and is exactly what the construction industry needs right now. Formulating situations for developing safety training and guidelines. This was what was in store when VR experts predicted it would cut through numerous aspects of life. This is what blog like How AR & VR reality technologies will really revamp these domains? wanted to capture in words. With advancements in technology, let us hope we get equipped to handle various scenarios and train people to keep them safe.