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Benefits of Virtual Reality in Construction Safety Training

The construction industry is rife with potential health and safety hazards. It’s why the construction sector is looking towards virtual reality for their training needs.

Construction and building sites are considered ‘a health and safety nightmare’, with over a quarter of all workplace fatalities in 2017/18 being in the construction industry. Beyond the fatalities, there are still 58,000 non-fatal injuries every year and 82,000 people suffering from work-related ill health. It’s why safety and training have never been more important.

Every construction site, no matter what stage of development, is rife with potential accident opportunities. While the workers may be experts in one particular area, they may not be aware of the dangers and potential accidents that can happen onsite.

Some are looking to virtual reality to decrease the number of preventable accidents and bring a new dimension to construction safety training. It has the potential to cover the architectural, construction, and engineering fields and save lives in the long-term. It’s possible to train entire operations in rigorous, real-life, heavy equipment exercises using high-fidelity virtual models of both existing and possible work sites.

The beauty of 3D simulation and virtual reality in a construction project or architectural workplace is the safety of the training process. Using these models introduces an array of benefits that you never knew possible when it comes to worker safety training. Complex situations and processes can be recreated through VR allowing employees to practice situations in a simulated environment. For example, employees can practice welding without the risk of burn injuries.

This is where a 3D modelling and virtual reality display can come to life and bring the training process into a risk-free, controlled, and safe environment in a realistic, innovative, and productive way. The technical and educational services on offer allow users to get the full experience of real-life projects. The health and safety of construction training have never been more thorough thanks to VR.

Avoid real-life dangers and disruptions

For many construction companies, the problem with traditional training methods is transferring what you learn in real life scenarios. With VR, a construction company can create realistic scenarios in a 3D environment, making any skills learned all the more transferable. Ranging from a crowded city street to a wide-open countryside, you can replicate the situations your employees will actually find themselves in. Trainees can develop essential skills through in-depth, vivid imagery.

Trainees won’t miss out on the realistic options as they can be immersed into the experience, as if it’s happening in real time. It also avoids any outdoor problems such as pedestrians, breakages, and bad weather – so users are experiencing everything that they could possibly need to from the comfort of the workplace, without any distractions (unless you want one). There are already many immersive learning courses available that incorporate VR elements.

VR provides the opportunity to experience situations that you wouldn’t be able to easily construct for training in a real-life situation which, ultimately, can test trainees at a progressive, higher level and a more difficult standard. This could include navigating tight corners, understanding the use of directional arrows, complex basket positioning, and avoiding hazardous placement. The multi-player capabilities also mean that they won’t miss out on the teamwork aspect of the work through coordinating with other operators. This allows simultaneous interactions amongst users, so that the trainee can work together as a crew in the virtual plant, preparing them for communicating their issues and needs to other workers or management. This concept has been embraced by Hire Association Europe, amongst others.

Working at height using construction equipment and tools is particularly risky, and remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities in the construction industry. Training in a VR environment removes that element of danger. Who knows, in the future, maybe we’ll be able to control the entire on-site process from the comfort of VR.

Higher retention and reduced training costs

Using these VR technologies can allow for trainees or for people who may not have any previous on-site experience or are starting fresh in a new industry to retain their training. This is because they can learn safely with secured supervision and instruction without any prior knowledge. It’s also useful for those just out of university, where their degree may likely won’t have covered site-based activities. The trainee operators can gain the needed safety knowledge and be able to practice drills that reduce safety training costs and keep inexperienced trainees away from certain sites until they are fully ready and qualified to join the team.

This form of training also has the benefit of being quicker and easier to track. Rather than finding the time, travel, and resources to locate a free work site, this innovative model brings everything you need in one place. No inconvenience or disruption from the weather; you can do everything from a permanent site. VR training can be run over and over again with no additional incremental cost or trainee risk.

Preparing for an emergency procedure

Another safety aspect that can be improved upon with VR is the ability to prepare workers and project managers in the execution of any emergency procedures, fire drills, or hazards. This immersive training can include simulating the way personal protective equipment works and how it should be used in an emergency. It’s near impossible to do this in a real-life setting without risks involved.

However, the use of the virtual reality training allows an immersive and realistic experience where operators can prove their knowledge under pressure and get a real sense of what to do in a high-strung situation. Playing out emergency procedures in real time aids progressive learning for all members of the team, not just new starters. Being told what you have to do in emergencies through PowerPoint slides or leaflets is nowhere near as informative as experiencing it through VR.

Better performance

Complex projects and problems for training can be simplified with difficulty levels and choices, easing the mind of both the trainer and the trainee. Training in an unsafe environment isn’t ideal – by calming the nerves in a controlled and suitable environment, it means that trainees can perform to their best ability and focus on the task at hand rather than fearing for the safety of pedestrians or other workers.

The realistic nature of the VR technology also means that the training is not limited; if anything, there are more options and choices through technological advancements, which will only continue to expand.

Not to mention the typical training scenario is surrounded by distractions. The virtual environment shuts out the world, allowing them to concentrate on the task at hand. They are more likely to pick up all the relevant information they need without worrying about the people around them.

Architects need safety too

Although construction sites may seem like the major danger zone when using VR, architectural work can also benefit from its safety features. Whether developing something new or modifying an existing site, architects can analyse hazards, identify and configure escape routes.

Additionally, the use of VR technology in the construction sector allows issues or mishaps to be spotted efficiently and promptly through a wider viewpoint. They can easily display an array of colour choices and finished patterns, without having to go through the effort of making and wasting prototypes. Being able to view the finished product will save time, be safer, and use less money. They can prevent safety issues before they even become a problem.

The new revolution of health and safety training systems with VR invites innovative ways of safer and quicker company training for construction sites, all while enhancing customer experience and boosting sales activities. Habitational issues can be stopped altogether, and any dangers or human error can be identified and resolved before ground is even broken.

Forbes says that by 2020, the virtual reality market will be worth an estimated $30 billion. If you’re looking to build and invest in your own business, then adhering to technological advances such as VR simulation is where to start. The concept of risk-free training seems too good to be true, and as technology advances every day, so will the growth of VR and all it has to offer. Avoid unnecessary complications, save time and money, and join the future of VR technology in the workplace.

Here at Antycip, we are providers of simulation software, projection and display systems, and VR systems for training and aiding with safety. We pride ourselves on holding extensive knowledge of anything relating to virtual reality and are happy to help with any related services you may need. If you have any questions, or want to know any more about what we offer, don’t hesitate to contact us on +(44) 1869 343 033.

Frank Reynolds, Marketing Manager, Antycip Simulation
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