Vector Solutions Innovation Spotlight: Virtual Reality As A Safety Training Tool
By now, most of us have heard the term ‘virtual reality’ in some capacity. Perhaps you’ve seen VR video game demos at your local electronics store or maybe you’ve even been lucky enough to experience a VR ride at an amusement park.
However, there is much more at stake than fun and games when it comes to virtual reality. In fact, VR has countless real-world applications and is transforming many industries, from engineering, to health and medicine, to education.
And in honor of National Safety Month, observed by the National Safety Council during the month of June, we’re going to take a look at how VR is transforming safety culture and training in the workplace and highlight several Vector Solutions VR innovations that are leading the way.
What Is Virtual Reality?
In case you need a refresher:
Virtual reality “is a fully immersive world experienced through headsets and earphones that block out the real external environment using purely real-world content like 360 degree video, strictly computer-generated synthetic content, or a hybrid of both.”
In other words, it ‘tricks’ the user’s brain by making them feel like they’re experiencing the simulated world in real life through visual and auditory stimulations and manipulations.
Transforming Safety Training Using Virtual Reality
As we’ve covered before, technology-assisted learning and training can significantly reduce accidents and costs. In fact, VR allows learners to engage in environments that reflect various real-world scenarios, including dangerous ones, without any exposure to significant risk factors.
As members of the Vector Solutions Innovation Council, Amy Watson and Ben Wilson have paved the way for several Vector VR applications and believe that VR holds many benefits for learners and organizations.
“Virtual reality allows learners to train in a controlled safe environment, and doesn’t expose them to dangerous hazards like heavy machinery or chemicals that you might find at a real-world training exercise practiced at a construction site or in a manufacturing facility,” explains Ben, Vector’s Manager of Content. “This controlled atmosphere allows learners to practice their skills over and over – without risk – until they have mastered or completed their training.”
And VR safety training isn’t just for new employees. VR training can help even the most experienced and senior-level team members improve or correct their skills.
“Remediation and reinforcement are also key benefits of VR training,” adds Amy, Senior Learning Experience Designer at Vector. “If there is an incident at work or on a jobsite, employees can utilize their available VR training solutions to safely reinforce proper procedures and practice their skills – while also receiving real-time feedback – so that they can safely identify and correct mistakes or errors without additional consequences or safety risks.”
Virtual Reality Applications From Vector Solutions
Vector Solutions strives to deliver new, cutting-edge solutions that enhance performance and reduce risk for our clients. And VR safety training is becoming an important piece of that solutions puzzle.
The Vector Solutions’ OSHA Portable Ladder Safety VR app allows learners to practice ladder safety training without ever stepping on a ladder.
The training first provides a brief overview of OSHA’s ladder safety requirements before placing the learner in a virtual world where the learner is free to make decisions that could either help them safely reach an elevated landing or place them in danger of becoming injured or injuring someone else.
Using a headset and hand controller, the learner navigates the training and then receives instant feedback by watching the consequences of their decisions play out in real time.
Another VR breakthrough developed by the Vector Solutions team is already being used by fire departments across the country.
Vector’s 360-degree VR smoke reading training course allows firefighters to learn how to read smoke and decide how to fight a fire based on what the smoke tells them without actually having to train in a smoke-filled building or expose themselves to the other harsh elements they face on a daily basis out in the field.
So, while many people still think of virtual reality as a form of entertainment, remember that it is transforming industries through practical functions such as safety training.
And while there is truly no full substitute for real-life training, VR is an important supplemental safety tool for employees and organizations seeking new ways to efficiently, effectively and safely train.