Safety Training May Soon be Conducted by Virtual Reality
[caption id="attachment_17477" align="alignright" width="300"] An IBS 2020 attendee testing out safety training software through VR goggles.[/caption] At the 2020 International Builders' Show, visitors to the IBS Jobsite Safety Zone were treated to the potential future of safety training: Virtual reality. FreeRange XR, a virtual reality software company based in California, demonstrated some of their offerings at IBS on the Safety Zone stage as a part of the safety products demonstration series new for 2020. FreeRange is focusing on the construction and industrial training market. The company offers modules for training in confined spaces, fall protection and hazardous materials handling. It notes that most people learn by doing, and virtual reality provides a safe, immersive and engaging experience where students learn behavior-based safety. With VR goggles on, workers can experience working up high without proper protection and the terror of falling from a dangerous height, all with no physical risk. VR can also simulate the urgency and cramped conditions of working in confined spaces. And there may be a learning benefit to using next-generation technology. The founder of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University writes that "What makes VR different from using a computer is that you move your body naturally, as opposed to using a mouse and a keyboard. Hence, learners can leverage what psychologists call embodied cognition." Another recent study by researchers at the University of Nottingham in England found that employee safety could be improved through use of virtual reality in health and safety training. The researchers noted, "Health and safety training can fail to motivate and engage employees and can lack relevance to real-life contexts. Our research suggests that virtual environments can help address these issues, by increasing trainees' engagement and willingness to participate in further training." FreeRange is not the only company looking to move into the potentially lucrative world of virtual reality construction safety training. Companies like STRIVR, PIXO, VIAR and even science giant 3M have VR training offerings. VR offers the opportunity for uniform and engaging training in a number of safety disciplines. Whether it's to protect workers or guard against OSHA violations, more training never hurt anyone. For more information on jobsite safety, contact Rob Matuga.