Virtual and Augmented Reality in Workplace Safety Training: Benefits and Applications
Virtual & Augmented Reality are becoming a regular part of everyday life. Let’s talk about their influence on workplace safety training.
A report in 2020 estimated that around 83 million United States citizens relied on augmented reality. That’s one of the reasons experts also predict the AR market to surpass the $50 billion mark by 2024. So, does that help workplace safety in any way?
Back in 2016, a European poll showed that around 36% of people strongly agreed that augmented reality can improve workplace safety. If that poll were taken again today, it’s safe to assume those numbers would climb up even higher.
So, can augmented or virtual reality impact workplace safety training? How does it fit into occupational health and safety? Let’s find out.
What Is Virtual/Augmented Reality?
Virtual or augmented reality is a technology that provides either an enhanced or entirely fabricated experience of real-life situations. Often referred to as ‘real-life- simulation,’ virtual or augmented reality can add to the world the way we see it (AR).
Or, they can create entirely new worlds and allow the users to hop into this virtual setting (VR). The two main differences between augmented and virtual reality are:
- Augmented reality adds to the things that we already see. For instance, the GPS screen in your car might show the ways or points that do not existing real life, such as this:
- Virtual reality, or VR, on the other hand, can cause entire real-life simulations, which allow the users to hop into this alternate reality for a time, such as piloting a craft like this:
Both these technology-based reality settings are employed in many workplaces around the globe. VR training creates a realistic and immersive environment where users can interact with objects, people, and situations. Use of VR headset enables trainees to experience and respond to scenarios as if they were physically present. Some use them for training, while others use them to add further skills to their employees and workers.
3 Applications of Augmented & Virtual Reality in Workplace Safety
The basics of augmented and virtual reality help us understand their impact on workplaces in general. So, how do they work with workplace safety training? Let’s say they were added by a company alongside safety programs such as OSHA 10-hour training, then this is how one can use virtual reality for workplace safety:
Hazard visualization is perhaps one of the easiest and best ways to teach employees about workplace safety. However, in the olden days, companies did this sort of training by providing real-life examples of catastrophes and workplace incidents.
They are prevalent in courses such as OSHA 30 construction training. However, adding virtual and augmented reality in safety training can improve that by miles. For instance, it can help companies:
- Simulate real-life situations;
- Devise plans to deal with catastrophes;
- And provide general safety training simulations.
This can make training like OSHA 30 construction or OSHA 10 a lot more useful. Not only is it capable of simulating real-life instances, but it can also provide a better understanding of possible workplace hazards and situational awareness. Therefore, using VR and AR for hazardous environment training can help immensely.
Implementing AR In Work Equipment
Implementing AR in workplace equipment isn’t something left to the imagination. There is a lot of workplace equipment, such as personal equipment like goggles, and heavy machinery like excavators that employ this.
One example is the GPS screen, which helps you properly reverse-park your car. This can help the machinery operator understand their next move's impact. Therefore, AR can be used in equipment as well as immersive safety training experiences. Such as:
- Providing visual simulation of heavy machinery;
- Using VR/AR-based goggles to train employees regarding safety;
- Implementing AR in goggles and other equipment to understand safety aspects;
- And safety training onboarding with VR and AR.
These factors aren’t only proven but also tried and tested by many organizations around the globe.
Predictive maintenance is another great example of VR or AR visualizing what it possibly can be. The idea of probability is thoroughly employed in AR-based technology. Therefore, if the machinery’s dashboard has an AR-implemented design, then the operator/worker can easily predict their next move.
An example of this would be AR-based GPS systems, which allow car drivers to view the roads like this:
Now, imagine this implemented in machinery for workplaces such as construction, maritime, etc. This will also ensure cost-effective safety training with VR and AR, as the predictive capability of any machinery driver would increase.
3 Benefits of Augmented & Virtual Reality in Workplace Safety
Now that implementations are out of the way, let’s talk about the benefits of VR and AR for safety training:
Workplace Made Safer
Any employer would wish for a continuous and seamless stream of workflow. To ensure that, they must provide their workers proper training, equipment, and tech-based help. That’s why safety training gamification with VR and AR can make workplaces safer.
It would make an otherwise dull and boring affair something employees would be eager to participate in. Therefore, ensuring a better and improved workplace safety culture within a company’s premises.
Cost-Effective Hazard Prevention
Cost-effectiveness is another dream of every employer, and they wish to keep things safer at a minimal cost. AR and VR can improve workplace safety by spending a bit in one place instead of another, such as damage control.
Therefore, a company or organization can benefit by ensuring workplace safety training and preventing potential hazards. This will also prepare workers to deal with dire situations and ensure regular inspections in potentially hazardous areas.
Friendly In All Industries
It’s applicable in all industries, and that’s one of the best things about VR and AR. All industries can employ AR and VR to advance their safety training from construction to maritime and agriculture. And, since the future of VR and AR in safety training is bright, one can only assume it’ll be expanding to even more industries.
These are the key aspects of virtual and augmented reality in workplace safety training. It’s going to be a necessary factor in the coming years—seeing the speed at which this technology is advancing. Therefore, companies must ensure workplace safety training by using AR and VR.