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Construction Safety Training, Virtual Reality, VR Training

Construction, by its very nature, is full of the hazards of partially built structures, open holes, and incomplete surfaces and structures, not to mention the often dizzying heights.

We all know that fall protection and prevention must be top-of-mind at all times to ensure the safety of your workers. The challenge, of course, is the difficulty in actually providing fall protection training.

Fall protection training itself can be as dangerous as a job site, not to mention the cost and lost project time to do this training properly.

Traditionally, the options for this kind of training ranges from on-the-job awareness training, like OSHA recommended: “Toolbox Talks” to sending select workers to costly specialized training centers. As you can imagine, talks around the toolbox, obligatory posters on the job site, and spending a lot of money on a few, but not all, of your workers, is only going to be marginally successful in preventing these life-threatening falls.

There has to be a better way.

And as it turns out, there is a better way — one that ensures your workers have the opportunity to get additional and more engaging fall prevention and protection training — Virtual Reality Fall Protection Training.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the value and benefit of VR training, but we’re also going to focus on the whole topic of fall protection training.

At PIXO VR, we don’t want virtual reality training, and our fall protection training module, to be a kind of “band-aid”. We want virtual reality training to be a seamless, cross-referenced part of a comprehensive and effective fall protection training program.

How to Make Fall Protection Training Effective

Let’s start with the basics.

Fall protection training is most effective when you make it a focal point at the very earliest stages of your construction planning, equipping, and training.

Here is a simple framework, adapted from OSHA, to help you integrate fall protection training into every step of your project.

  1. Give Fall Protection its Due Importance – Stress the importance of training and planning for fall protection and prevention in all phases of construction from planning to the job site. Fall protection is unquestionably a matter of life and death. It needs to be prioritized and talked about daily for successful retention.
  2. Fall Prevention Starts in the Planning Phase – Fall hazards are a part of every construction project, from residential roofing to building bridges and raising skyscrapers, planning safety into the job is crucial to preventing falls.
  3. Provide the Right Equipment – Proper equipping goes beyond requiring and issuing fall arrest harnesses. Training workers on how to inspect, maintain, and correctly use equipment is essential to ensuring that your safety equipment is used and performs appropriately on the job site.
  4. Train ALL Workers. Ideally Together – Each worker, their actions and behaviors, impact not only the productivity of the crew, but also the safety of each person on the job site. Consequently, any proper fall protection training requires every worker to be thoroughly trained, and that training should ideally be done together.

Using this simple four-part checklist, you can better evaluate fall protection training and make sure that any safety training program you implement has the maximum impact.

Turning Toolbox Talks into (Virtual) Reality

OSHA recommends Toolbox Talks in their Fall Prevention Training Guide. These are brief discussions that are designed to be done on site, with your crew.

In a 15-20 minute talk, these sessions reinforce the importance of the training, use real-world examples, and facilitate questions about the specific safety topic being addressed during the Toolbox Talk. These talks are an excellent way to reinforce core fall protection training, aiding workers in retaining what they have learned in other, more formal training sessions.

However, it’s crucial that your workers are also getting realistic, hands-on training. You want your training to assesses the worker’s ability to think safety first and make good decisions under the pressure of getting the job done. Creating these working environments are where VR training can be a real asset.

Not only does virtual reality allow your crews to practice their safety knowledge in a practical environment, but it can also let them work as a team – assuring that they can operate safely together on the project.

Example Fall Protection VR Training Sessions

In this section, I want to talk through some example VR training adaptations of these Toolbox Talks. This way you can get a feel for the difference between talking about safety and practicing safety in virtual reality — possibly in the convenience of your job trailer.

The best way to reinforce the importance of any safety training is getting your trainees’ attention with the consequence of failing to observe necessary protocols. Traditional training methods, for obvious reasons, struggle to go beyond telling horrific stories and trying to capture a trainee’s attention through their imagination.

Virtual reality gives trainers the unique opportunity to let students be a little more cavalier in making — and learning from — “fatal” mistakes. Your first fall from 20 stories up is a wake-up call, even in virtual reality.

One of our favorite VR training icebreakers is to let the most confident “victim” step into the VR training environment and give it a try. Without guidance or a good “safety brief” the overconfident often quickly make a mistake that sends them to their demise in front of their whole crew.

This demonstration accomplishes the first learning objective in any safety training — getting everyone’s attention so they can begin to fully understand its importance.

Now, with everyone’s full and undivided attention, you can move into the actual training module.

Ladder Safety

Ladders are one of the most basic and frequently used tools on any construction project. It’s precisely this frequency and familiarity that make ladders the center of so many falls.

In VR training modules involving ladders, the trainee is going to get hands-on practice inspecting ladders, using them in a variety of scenarios, making decisions about when and when not to use ladders, as well as the proper care of these critical tools.

Scaffolding Safety

Like ladders, it’s way too easy for our workers to get too comfortable working on these scaffolding and other raised platforms. Statistically speaking, hardly a day goes by without a construction worker falling to their death from a scaffold.

In VR training, you can do more than talk about all of the many things that can go wrong with scaffolding.

In virtual reality, you can cover everything from properly designing and constructing scaffolding to using them in the unique ways they may be implemented to meet the needs of your project. You can also experience and practice how to move as well as handle all of the materials, tools, and equipment that will accompany you on the scaffold.

Virtual reality can also help you to simulate the random and unpredictable nature of a construction zone – requiring workers to navigate scaffolding, identify and avoid hazards, and deal with the randomness of materials and other people on the scaffold.

These are two popular and crucial construction training scenarios. As you can see, each is easily converted from a traditional classroom or on-the-job discussions to practical, hands-on virtual reality exercises.

Other Traditional Fall Protection Training Well-suited for VR Training

PIXO VR is currently working to develop a full construction training library, starting with a fully-developed module for fall protection training.

Here are just a few of the practical exercises that trainees could experience in future iterations of VR Fall Protection training:

  • Fall Restraint Systems and Fall Arrest Systems
    • Inspection procedures
    • Donning procedures
    • Fit test
  • Selection, application, and care of FRS/FAS equipment
  • Rescue scenarios
    • Fall victim
    • First on the scene
    • Self-rescue and assisted self-rescue

How Can We Help Improve Your Fall Protection Training

Looking for something specific?

Let’s talk about custom VR Training options for your business. Working with our award-winning team of 3D artists, designers, and engineers, we can use our state-of-the-art platform to build a custom Virtual Reality Training experience for any business.

Contact us today to discuss your training objectives and get a free quote.

We’re building new realities, every day

PIXO VR thinkers and makers are always adding new content to our construction training virtual reality experience library. Contact us to get a demo of the current library or to discuss a custom VR Training solution.

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
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Construction Safety Training, Virtual Reality, VR Training

Many training managers are pondering this simple question: Is my business ready for virtual reality training?

But the real questions (read: fears) lurking in the back of their minds are:

  • What the heck is virtual reality-based training?
  • What would it look like in practice?
  • What fancy equipment do I need even to pull it off?
  • And, of course, what kind of budget do I need?

Well, today is your lucky day. We’re going to answer all of those hidden, but crucial questions, so that you can bring VR Training into your program in an informed way.

What is Virtual Reality-Based Training?

The name — virtual reality-based training — largely self-defines this emerging training methodology.

Virtual Reality Training is a technology-based training method that uses computer software and special sensory hardware to recreate real environments and scenarios. These virtual environments allow students to engage in fully immersive, realistic, and interactive virtual training scenarios.

Most importantly, VR Training can effectively simulate on-the-job style training in a safer and more forgiving environment, while giving trainers the kind of visibility and control they’ve long desired in their training exercises.

Explaining virtual reality on an even more practical level, a training setup generally consists of one or more dedicated high-performance (but standard gaming-grade) computer workstations, a quality VR headset (HP Windows Mixed Reality, HTC Vive or Oculus Rift), and a couple of motion-tracking sensors, (depending on the headset you’re using. In the case of the HP Windows Mixed Reality headset mentioned above, “standalone” headsets are also becoming available which deliver a great VR experience without needing light tower-tracking).

This low-profile technology can be installed in a relatively small training area (as little as 100 square feet — a 10’ x 10’ square), in the corner of an office, training room, or even on-site job trailer, and just like that: you’re ready to train in virtual reality.

With this simple and inexpensive setup and a VR Training software module, (which is roughly equivalent in difficulty to ordering and installing a video game), you’re ready to host your first virtual reality-based training session.

The best thing about using VR Training instead of, or in conjunction with, the typical snooze-fest PowerPoint dirge through training talking points and objectives, virtual reality gets each student mentally and even physically involved, actively challenging them to do the training they would otherwise be (mostly) passively learning about.

Critically, despite needing some amount of hardware to take full advantage of the experience, there’s no “downtime”. Even when the students aren’t in the virtual training environment themselves, they can remain mentally and emotionally engaged as they watch and learn from the photo-realistic successes and failures of their classmates on the screen (or on a recorded video).

Rather than simply wait for their turn, they can learn and troubleshoot for themselves as they watch how co-workers successfully or unsuccessfully complete their virtual jobs.

Benefits of Using Virtual Reality in Training

As we’ve defined the term ‘VR Training’, we’ve touched on several of the benefits of using it for your workforce. Now let’s break down some of the most important of those benefits so you can build a business case for leveraging VR in your company’s training program.

Engaging and Interactive

No more sitting in rows of cramped, grade school-style desks, watching an instructor drone their way through slides filled with regulatory-speak in the vain hope that someone is paying attention.

Virtual reality-based training gets folks out of their seats and participating in real-life training scenarios. Even those watching outside of the virtual reality “hot-seat” are still engaged, if for no other reason than the excitement and novelty of the training medium itself. There’s no shame in admitting that something serious like training can also be fun.

Controlled, Specific, and Forgiving

One of the most significant benefits of virtual reality is the amount of control you have over training and practice scenarios.

You can create a training environment customized to your specific business’ needs. Your VR Training can be designed to replicate actual jobs, situations, or even a particular job site or project. Add in hazardous materials, specialized equipment, and a variety of unexpected twists and turns, and you have real on-the-job training — all without the dangers of on-the-job training.

Furthermore, because it’s software you can program your training scenarios to focus on specific problem areas or unique challenges expected from an individual worker or an actual project.  

Higher Retention Rate

Retention is always a training priority, and virtual reality has been scientifically proven to help with retention.

This positive retention rate makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever experienced a virtual training session or even a virtual reality game; it’s why some call our field “serious gaming”. VR Training transports the trainee into a realistic environment and makes them an active participant in the experience, less a ‘student’ than a ‘player’.  

Virtual reality lets you see, hear, and react to scenarios, making your training feel as real as real can be. Trainees retain more because they will have to assess what’s going on around them, make decisions, and suffer the consequences — they have to use more of their minds (and even bodies).

When presented with new concepts and ideas in vivid interactive 3D, they can’t just sit there and pretend to pay attention, they’ll have to get involved. What’s more, they’ll actually want to.

Beyond the mental side of retention, VR delivers on sense-memory. When trainees actively participate in this kind of hands-on training, they’ll only need to practice most things a few times before they acquire that new skill.  

Efficiently Train Every Worker

One of the great things about Virtual Reality Training is that you can do it from anywhere. This feature gives you the opportunity to make sure that every single worker has a chance to get realistic, virtual training — no matter where they are.

With PIXO VR’s multi-user functionality, not only can they train from anywhere, they can all do it in the same virtual setting at the same time. This helps build chemistry and team skills, fostering collaboration and even enabling a little friendly competition, driving everyone to be better.

All of your VR Training sessions can also be recorded and made available in a library of videos that demonstrate your training objectives, even if every employee doesn’t have access to the hardware at that moment.

Critically, VR has also made training itself more efficient.

VR has proven to reduce the time needed to train, allowing users to master skills quicker. Research has shown that trainees learn the same material in 40-60% less time with VR as opposed to more traditional forms of training.

Cost Effective

Cost is one of the most important, if somewhat overlooked benefits of VR Training. Although there are some upfront investments, compared to traditional training that often requires paid instructors, travel expenses, and even specialized training equipment and facilities — VR Training can yield a much higher return on investment.

Perhaps the most significant financial return can be found in the ongoing value provided by greater institutional self-knowledge, delivered in aggregate training data.

VR provides a degree of visibility into employee capabilities — at both the individual and team-level — that, until now, training managers and employers could only dream about.

With robust data capture mechanisms and real-time reporting and analytics, VR can make an entire training program — including parts of the program that aren’t even leveraging virtual reality — more efficient and cost effective by revealing the programs strengths and weaknesses over time.

After all, who can say precisely how much capital a business loses annually by misunderstanding (or outright not knowing) what its employees do best and where they need some work — before an accident or production mishap takes place?

If information is power, VR Training is far more empowering for enterprise than traditional training methods.

Five Steps to Launch Your First VR Training Solution

Now, with a solid understanding of the benefits of virtual reality-based training, it’s time to help you build a business case for VR Training to sell internally, so you can become the hero of your training program.

Let’s begin that business case by outlining a practical path to launching that very first VR training session.

1. Start with a Real Business Problem

When considering VR Training, many wonder where to start. That’s why I encourage companies to begin by identifying a real business problem. Identify an area of your company where performance or training is lacking. In so doing, you’ll give your VR Training program an opportunity to be applied where it can bring the most immediate value and clearly demonstrate its usefulness.

In the area of construction training, we often see companies starting with our fall protection VR Training module.

Fall hazards are one of the most frequent and fatal construction accidents. At the same time, it is difficult and costly to provide adequate prevention training. Fall protection training is a perfect example of when VR Training could be the most effective training solution.

2. Begin with a Specific Training Module

At the beginning of piloting a new VR Training program, I also recommend starting with a specific training objective and a module or lesson to accomplish it.

Don’t try to replace your whole training program or satisfy every possible learning objective with virtual reality; while anything that can be taught can be virtualized, there are still places where traditional training may make more sense, or be more cost-effective.

Introduce virtual reality as an alternative or complementary training method within a more extensive training curriculum, rather than attempting to “rip and replace” your entire program.

3. Have a Well-Defined Learning Objective

Since VR Training is going to be a “radical” new approach in your training system, it’s essential to apply it against a specific learning objective.

We started by identifying a clear problem within your business’ training program. Next, we thought of one aspect of that problem where virtual reality might make the most sense as a solution.

Now, we want to be able to actually demonstrate that virtual reality is directly meeting a specific training goal. So set your goals ahead of time. VR Training isn’t a magic bullet — it’s a tool, and like any tool, how you actually use it counts.

4. Required Technology

At this point, make sure you have all of the right equipment to deliver an excellent VR Training experience for your employees.

The good news on this front is that virtual reality has become very accessible. Mainstream computers, graphics cards, and processors, as well as the VR headsets themselves, have become so powerful and affordable that budget is rarely a barrier to implementing VR Training.

Here is a typical VR Training technology wishlist:

Recommended VR Headset(s)

  1. HTC Vive Pro
  2. HTC Vive
  3. HP Windows Mixed Reality
  4. Oculus Rift

Computer Specifications

Processor

Intel(r) Core(TM) i5-4590 or AMD FX(TM) 8350, equivalent or better

Graphics

NVIDIA(r) GeForce(r) GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon(TM) RX 480, equivalent or better.

Memory

4 GB RAM or more

Video output

DisplayPort 1.2 or newer

USB

1x USB 3.0 port or newer

Operating System

Windows 10


For the most current computer specs, double-check the latest specifications for HTC Vive, HP Windows Mixed Reality, or Oculus Rift support websites.

That’s it! For less than $2,000 you’re ready to set up a virtual reality training studio in that bleak – dreaded – traditional classroom. What’s more, you’ll have people begging to sign-up for training, instead of finding reasons to avoid it.

5. Find and Implement, then Measure and Improve

Now, for the purposes of time, we’re mainly skipping past the “find and implement” part where you shop around for, find, and decide upon a Virtual Reality Training provider to supply you with a solution, (something we at PIXO VR would be more than happy to discuss with you, should you be at this stage of the process right now.)

For now, we’ll cut to the chase and assume you’ve found a VR Training company and have integrated their solution into your curriculum, applied to a specific module, and serving a particular learning objective.

This part is key: make sure you measure the results!

Are your trainees doing better on practical assessments? Are they retaining the information? Are you noticing better outcomes on projects that require the skill you trained for using virtual reality? Importantly, do you know how they were doing before?

Even if you don’t have much hard data from the past, document as much Before & After information as possible so you can get a proper apples-to-virtual-apples comparison of the pre- and post-VR Training status quo. The results will be eye-opening.

Next Steps

If you’re thinking about piloting a new VR Training program, PIXO VR wants to support your efforts to innovate. Don’t hesitate to hit us up with questions, ask for help in putting together your business case, or schedule a demo. Contact our VR Training experts.

Further Reading

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Construction Safety Training, VR Training

Video instruction has become all the rage. Khan Academy, Skillshare, Udemy, and a whole host of other video training programs are rapidly offsetting more traditional lecture and seminar-style learning environments.

However, the evolution from in-person to virtual training is not complete.

Research is demonstrating that fully immersive virtual reality training is more effective than video instruction.

Setting Up the VR Training Versus Video Instruction Test

In our survey of recent research around learning technology and virtual reality, we came across this one particular study that was quite interesting.

This study was trying to determine the effectiveness of VR training in teaching student to accomplish physical tasks.

In setting up the experiment the researchers used the mastery of three Tai Chi movements as the learning objective. This physical activity or task was specifically chosen because of its full-body movement and well-defined standard of mastery for each movement or form.

Given this learning objective, the students were then divided into two learning groups. One group would be instructed using fully immersive virtual reality training and the second group would use more traditional video instruction.

For both approaches, they used Tai Chi instructors and recorded them correctly performing the movements. In the case of the VR training, a 3D model of the instructor was constructed such that the student would be learning from a virtual instructor in the same virtual space.

Students in both learning environments experienced two training sessions and a final testing session. Between each session, they were able to review and learn from video captures of their performance.

Following each session, two independent reviewers, trained to judge the specific Tai Chi movements, inspected and graded the students’ videos without knowledge of which learning methodology they used in their training.

In addition, each student was given a questionnaire to self report their subjective evaluation of the training experience – specifically, how connected they felt to the instructor and the learning task itself.

Research Demonstrates VR Training is Better than Video

The clear results of this study were that students trained in the virtual reality training environment performed better.

The VR training cohort’s performance was not only better in the final testing but also after each training session. In fact, on average, the students in the VR training cohort actually performed better after the first training session than the video instructional cohort did after completing the entire program of training and testing.

Students in the VR training cohort also self-reported a higher sense of connectedness to the training.

Why is VR Training Better?

There are a variety of factors that make virtual reality a more effective learning environment, but this specific study highlighted a couple of significant factors.

First, there is the advantage of putting student and instructor in the same virtual space. This creates a level of connectedness and attentiveness to enhances not only learning but also long-term learning retention.

Second, the three-dimensional environment enables the student to choose the learning perspective and reposition as they actively learn.

The opportunity to be a part of an interactive learning environment creates a clear advantage to overall student engagement and performance.

Ready to Evaluate Your Own VR Training Pilot?

Get more information about this study by downloading the original research.

If this has inspired you to create your own VR training program or introducing a VR training module into your overall training program, we would love to talk to you.

Contact one of our training specialist here at PIXO VR. We’ll walk you step-by-step through the process of picking the right learning objectives to pilot, how to set up your first VR training studio, and ways to maximize virtual reality’s advantages in training programs.

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Construction Safety Training, News, Virtual Reality, VR Training

In 2016, there were 370 fatal falls out of 991 construction fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction safety and fall protection training, in particular, is a severe problem that needs a better solution. Consider this true story…

Bill enters the job trailer, after a little small talk, he grabs his harness. Giving it a quick once-over he puts it on along with the rest of his safety equipment, like every other day for months.

On his short walk over to the construction elevator, his mind wanders off. He wonders if his daughter remembered the appropriate bow to accent her cheer uniform for this afternoon’s football game. Otherwise, he’s going to get a panicked text message on his way home to track it down and get it to her before kick-off — just like last week.

A quick and sudden jerk brings him back to reality as the elevator abruptly stops and opens to a scaffolding catwalk, three stories up. After a little over a month on this job site, this view is pretty standard stuff. He hooks up his safety line and walks out to where he’s working this morning and gets to it.

A little over thirty minutes into the job, he reaches down for a tool. Suddenly Bill feels uneasy. Then he realizes the platform is giving way under him. Just as what’s happening fully hits him, he tries to grab for something, anything to stop his fall. He feels himself helplessly flailing.

Just as he begins to panic, he lurches to a stop. He thinks, “My harness!” Thank goodness for my…

Something snaps and Bill falls three stories to his death.

Luckily, today Bill is doing fall protection training in a safe, but shockingly realistic, virtual reality training environment. But, the missed fracture in the D-ring on his harness is an oversight that is not likely to ever go missed again.

Our ability to identify and assess risk is acquired through training and experience. In the case of construction workers, this training can be just as dangerous and unforgiving as the actual day-to-day, on-the-job experience. Which is precisely why the benefits of virtual reality training for construction safety is so compelling.

Let’s review just a few of the most important benefits of using VR training in your construction training program.

1. Virtual Reality Provides a Safer Training Environment

Construction is inherently dangerous.

Not only are the skilled construction activities dicey — moving tons of lumber, drywall, steel, and other building materials, pouring thousands of pounds of concrete, running and connecting electricity, and on and on — but we also put these men and women in tiny buckets and on narrow scaffolding at dizzying heights.

Then, we ask them to stay safe.

Keeping these workers safe is its own dangerous game. Putting these folks into realistic training scenarios is essential. To be effective, this training must recreate not only realistic scenarios, but also the emotions, sensations, and distractions that haunt these hazardous work environments.

Historically, attempts to achieve quality construction safety training has required building large, expensive, and roughly equivalent construction environments. Of course, in recreating these simulated construction sites, you necessarily recreate, to some extent, all of the same danger zones and risks of injury and even death.

Virtual Reality Training solves many of the safety issues inherent in the traditional safety training that many construction companies continue to use. The VR training environment is 100% safe and gives an arguably more accurate construction environment in which to train.

2. Ability to Create Riskier, More Realistic Training

Creating physical construction simulations has so many limitations. Try finding a training facility that can accommodate a fifteen story superstructure, swinging tons of steel with an enormous crane, or pouring thousands of pounds of cement footing.

It’s impossible. So, what do we do?

We build structures to reasonable heights, we swing simulated loads, and we role play or inject equivalent distractions. The limitation of the physical world, training budgets, and rational risk tolerances force us to train in environments that can only simulate a tiny fraction of the real risks and hazards of a real job site.

Virtual reality training allows us to push training exercises to the very edge of realism, up to and including deadly hazards and actions.

Simulating the actual hazards and results of following (or not following) safety procedures is one powerful advantage. We can practice most, if not all, of the hazardous activities that a worker will be expected to perform in accordance with the project plan. Also, they can practice these assignments under the same working conditions they will experience on the job site.

With VR training you can also introduce the realistic sensations of heights, distractions, stress, and environmental hazards. These mental and emotional hazards are often missed in training because we simply can’t push the risk envelope.

3. Virtual Reality Training Allows for Endless Repetition

Repetition is the secret to mastery.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his best selling book Outliers: The Story of Success, introduces the idea that mastery in a well-defined discipline can be achieved with approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. In construction, that kind of repetition is prohibitively expensive, and consequently, the majority of that deliberate practice necessarily takes place on-the-job.

Virtual reality training has the power to make this level of deliberate practice much more, well, practical. The incremental cost of running a VR training scenario is de minimus, unlike more traditional training in the physical world.

With VR training, workers get to strap on the VR headset and go at it again and again until they can accomplish the task flawlessly — and safely.

4. Real Life is Random. Virtual Reality Software Can Generate That Randomness

We all know that the world is full of random moments. However, when most training is being designed, that kind of unpredictable randomness — interruptions, distractions, weather, changes of all kinds — is marginalized or removed in order to maintain focus on the teaching of core concepts. Unfortunately, when this is done, realism is reduced and training becomes less contextual and relevant to the real world.

We often think we’re basically “stuck” with this less-than-optimal training for a variety of reasons. The two most common challenges in randomizing training are cost and trainee evaluation. In the physical world, it is simply too expensive to build the requisite number of training scenarios. In this same constraining physical world, it’s difficult or impossible for trainers to effectively evaluate trainee performance when there are too many extraneous secondary scenarios and variables.

Once again, virtual reality software removes those barriers. The best VR training modules are just now introducing randomization of the kind you might experience in a high-quality video game. Randomization ensures you never “teach to the test”, or allow trainees to temporarily memorize “the hard parts” of certain lessons — things they might quickly forget after the completion of their training.

What’s more, this randomization comes at no increase in cost and leverages one of the most significant advantages of premium virtual reality training: much of the trainee evaluation is baked into the software itself.

5. Virtual Reality Provides a Safe Environment to Test and Evaluate Procedures

When we think about administering training, we often forget about the testing and evaluation that has to go into validating the actual training. In construction safety training, this is particularly important.

Too often, we rely on assumptions, or even worse, accident reports to develop and assess our safety procedures. This approach is made even more ineffective by the fact that construction safety is often dynamic, based on the current project plan, available equipment, and working conditions/environment — all factors that probably should require refinements in on-site safety procedures.

With virtual reality training software, we can construct scenarios that are specific to the job site or project planning scenarios and then realistically and safely test and evaluate those procedures. You can also test project plans to ensure that you are creating project plans that are realistic and can be safely executed.

6. Immersive VR Training Can Increase Trainee Focus

How many times have you been in a training room and your attention wanders? Thinking about lunch, returning a text message, wondering why you’re covering this again, just waiting for it to end, or simply daydreaming are only a few examples of all-too-human mental distractions that can degrade the training process.

Sitting in a classroom or even waiting in line for your turn on the platform are all limitations of the physical training environment; restrictions that allow for trainees to lose focus and miss critical points of instruction.

Virtual reality has the advantage of being fully immersive. Because VR training strives to fully replicate the physical world and all of the disparate elements in that real-world, you have to stay on your toes at all times. And while, depending on the supply of hardware, some trainees may have to wait to get into a VR headset, others can follow along, watching their journey and lesson unfold from a first-person perspective on a nearby HD screen, turning passive waiting into active learning.

This realistic and immersive training environment helps trainees maintain their attention and concentration on each training task posed to them.

7. Virtual Reality Training Gives Trainers Better Evaluation Tools

We previously mentioned the challenges of evaluating trainees and even the training itself. These challenges are particularly acute in construction training.

In many of the construction safety training programs used today, trainers are struggling to evaluate trainees under less than ideal circumstances. Trainers are either assessing from a safe, but obscured vantage point, or struggling to evaluate from the same precarious positions as the student – extreme heights, narrow spaces, unstable platforms.

In contrast, a training environment constructed with virtual reality software can put trainers in the best possible position to observe and evaluate their trainees. Besides, the software can also capture data points that help analyze why trainees are experiencing success and failure – view and movement tracking as well as biometrics.

Another benefit to evaluating training in virtual reality is the simplicity of collecting and analyzing data – no more clipboards and tally sheets.

8. Training Can Be Customized for Specific Sites, Scenarios, and Standards

Every company and job site is unique. And no matter how consistent we try to be with construction safety, the real-world will always throw some curveballs our way.

Each project will likely have its own special challenges and problems because of location, unique requirements, weather, or just the complexity of the project itself. General construction safety training can leave workers exposed to or unfamiliar with local job hazards.

Virtual reality software provides a huge advantage in the flexibility and costs to offer site- and company-specific construction training.

Physical training facilities rarely can be reconfigured to approximate any particular job site realistically. And most construction projects can’t absorb the lost time and additional cost of shutting down portions of a job site for training.Necessarily, with increased customization comes increased cost, but these costs will almost certainly pale in comparison to those of closing a real-world job site for one or more days for training purposes, or the inherent risks of O.J.T., (on-the-job training) for the same purpose.Further, different companies often have slightly different ways of doing things; specific protocols and standards that help define how a company operates. Premium VR training can accommodate these variations for a more tailored training experience.

9. Virtual Reality Can Make Training More Efficient

Many of the benefits that we have reviewed so far point to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of virtual reality over traditional, physical training environments.

Virtual reality training allows for your construction training safety programs to be far more relevant, site-specific, frequent, and repeatable without significantly increasing cost or time. In fact, studies and real-world applications of VR Training show it drives down the time needed to learn the same information usually taught with more traditional training methods. This Deloitte Insights article points out that in 2017, KFC employed a VR Training simulation to help teach their trainees their world-famous “secret recipe” for preparing chicken. According to KFC, with VR, trainees mastered the five steps needed to make the brand’s namesake fried chicken in just 10 minutes — as compared to the 25 minutes needed to the learn the same thing using conventional training.

10. Virtual Reality Training Research Indicates Higher Retention

All the training in the world is worthless unless it sticks.

While VR Training is still relatively new, there is a lot of research around what helps trainees to retain their training. Many of these factors are inherent characteristics of virtual reality training.

Here are just a few VR training characteristics that increase retention:

  • Consistency – By using software, even with randomization, every training scenario can be reliably delivered in a precise and controlled way.

  • Frequency – VR training can be run over and over again with no additional incremental cost or trainee risk.

  • Relevance – Software allows us to reconfigure and customize the training environment cheaply.

  • Immersion – Virtual reality gives us the luxury of dropping a trainee into a fully immersive and realistic training environment that can be pushed to extremes.

The research continues to reaffirm the overall effectiveness of virtual reality training, especially in studies targeted explicitly at the challenges of delivering construction safety training.

Bonus: Virtual Reality Training Lowers Training Costs

By this point, you’ve probably already picked up on the thread of cost savings throughout this list of benefits. Using software and some relatively inexpensive hardware can slash the cost of realistically simulating a broad spectrum of construction hazards and evaluate the proper execution of safety procedures.

Cost-savings permeate all facets of a comprehensive safety training program. But, probably some of the biggest savings are realized in reducing the need to either physically create or travel to an adequate training facility or temporarily shutting down an actual job site to provide a viable training environment.

The bottom line is construction safety training is a non-negotiable expense. However, if you can do it at a fraction of the cost and time, and it’s more effective than the alternative, then the business case for VR training becomes overwhelming.

How PIXO VR Can Help Your Construction Safety Training

PIXO VR is currently developing a ‘Focus Fourpack’, providing Virtual Reality Training experiences concerned with construction’s “Fatal Four,” four of the leading workplace killers, responsible for more than half of the industry’s worker deaths in 2016. The first of these, PIXO VR Fall Protection, is now available, with the remaining three slated for completion by early 2019. The Fatal Four include:

  1. Falls – (38.7% of total construction deaths in 2016)

  2. Struck by Object – (9.4%)

  3. Electrocutions – (8.3%)

  4. Caught-in/between – (7.3%)

As the economy drives increased construction activity and our construction sites become increasingly complex and technological, these sad statistics will only decline if and when we improve and innovate our current training to make it more effective.

PIXO VR is aggressively working towards a VR Training solution that protects your workers with the most realistic and effective training environment available.

But, talk is cheap, we want the opportunity to show you.

Contact us to experience the cutting edge of construction safety training.

 
Photo by Tuan Minh on Unsplash
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