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Virtual Reality In Industry Training Streamlines Safety

By Allison Crady
Using the same virtual reality technology that has simulated a realism rush in the gaming industry, engineers and construction leaders can revolutionize the world of construction training. 

One in every five worker deaths happen in the construction industry. Over half of the injuries caused are a result of human error, because there's never been a safe way to train for ultra-hazardous situations... until now. 


The immersive reality presents impressive potential for significant safety improvement. Imagine having the ability to rehearse extremely dangerous situations without any risk. Imagine designing buildings and walking through them... before they're built.

DANGEROUS CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY GIGS

Swinging cranes, heavy supplies, and loud noises don't exactly paint a picture of safety. In addition to the obvious dangers, there are invisible threats such as handling electricity or maneuvering hazardous steel materials. Every project site presents an extremely high-risk environment. Until now, there have never been effective ways to bring down that huge rate of human error. 



One in ten construction workers are injured each year. Several injury statistics are quite surprising. For example, while falls comprise the top 40% of construction injury, standard fall protection is also the most violated of OSHA rules. If death rates weren't scary enough, workers who stay in for over 40 years have a 75% chance of incurring a disabling injury. 

While construction industries are crucial to economic growth, there remains an excessive amount of inefficiency. For laborers with a 45-year career, there's a 1-in-200 chance of death. Recent OSHA studies provide a breakdown of top causes for the looming death rate. The following are known as the "Fatal Four" in construction: 
  • Falls - 40%
  • Electrocutions - 8.2%
  • Struck by objects - 8.1%
  • Caught-in-betweens - 4.3% 
Working in construction is deadly, and most occupational incidents result from human error. A startling 60% of all incidents happen within a new recruit's first year. This statistic screams of needed reform in construction training. Safety can be improved and human error largely eradicated with safer methods of situation rehearsals. 

AUGMENTED REALITY IN CONSTRUCTION TRAINING

An intervention has been needed to combat the alarming lack of industry safety. The invent of virtual reality is that solution. It gives field workers the opportunity to practice complex and risky operations without fear of destruction. Electrical hazard cognition is a primary example because it's invisible. Electricity raining has always been a struggle, evident in the high electrocution rates. 


With the immersive technology users can see, hear and interact within an alternate environment. In this way trainees have the ability to practice highly-dangerous situations with zero risk. Virtual reality allows object manipulation, engagement with artificial intelligence along with perceptual and behavioral assessments, all within the safe and forgiving alternate reality. 

Construction learning programs can be designed to help trainees recognize complex situations while building knowledge and skills of correct procedures. Developing training programs include modules for safety and hazard lectures, hazard identification games and student assessment evaluations. As VR designs advance, engineers' ability to predict and provide rehearsal for dangerous scenarios will grow. 

Similar to computer gaming, the sophisticated software recreates environments with multiple theatre modes, which can be used for training scenarios. Users enjoy movement through space and interactive environments. There are 180-degree iDomes for individual training and 360-degree modes for group scenarios. 

BECHTEL ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION FIRM CASE STUDY

Designed by the Human Condition Safety crew, the latest SafeScan job training uses the immersive technology. The program will be used through Bechtel, a globally-recognized engineering, construction and project management firm. 

The program uses hyper realistic environments, which provide far more effective training than current industry standardized versions. Some example scenarios might include unloading a beam from 20 stories up on a foggy morning. But instead of actually doing that, the SafeScan can simulate the experience in safety. That way trainees can perform the needed tasks while experiencing similar physiological effects of the dangerous situation. 

Betchel plans to utilize the program while monitoring the results. Using data systems, they can determine the riskiest situations and then modify the training guides to accommodate.  The overall goal is to save lives. Since construction projects are so dangerous, it's the perfect industry to have a massive impact. With the developing technology integration, more engineering and construction firms can begin to eliminate unnecessary losses.

VIRTUAL REALITY OF THE FUTURE

Virtual reality will significantly lift training barriers. It presents high hopes for a more efficient industry.  Experts predict the technology will become as common in construction as hammers and nails. Construction workers can enjoy perfect safety as they develop structural skills in VR training. Throughout the year, experts predict the technology will explode throughout with countless new uses and adaptions. 

Companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft are constantly exploring new ways to fully utilize it. Emerging headsets, interactive hand controllers and movement sensors will revolutionize the entire construction process. Designers, contractors and contractors will be able to make better decisions, earlier on. 


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Allison Crady is a Marketing Specialist for multiple commercial construction companies, including CDF Distributors and Fast Partitions. She studied public relations at Southeastern Louisiana University, earning a Bachelor's of Arts degree and graduating summa cum laude. She gained hands-on experience working as a reporter and editor for the local newspaper, where she established herself as an award-winning writer. 

SEO, link-building and outreach campaigns are her current specialty skills. Allison spends most of her time researching and writing about exciting industry topics such as construction trends, home improvement, urban development and city planning. Of the clock, Allison volunteers for the Nashville Civic Design Center to help shape a healthy city. 

In the realm of happiness, Allison enjoys physical exertion in many forms. Weight lifting, practicing yoga, dancing, jogging and exploring the city on foot are a few of her favorites. She also greatly enjoys reading books on life style design. "Think and Grow Rich," "The 4-Hour Work Week," and "The 80/20 Principle" top the list. 



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