Construction Enterprises Hone in on
the Benefits of VR to Boost Safety Measures
As virtual reality (VR) gains popularity in mainstream areas such as gaming and military simulation practices, VR is increasingly being used as a safeguard toward public and occupational protection. In 2015, the United States Department of Labor concluded that, “out of 4,379 worker fatalities in private industry…937 or 21.4 percent were in construction — that is one in five worker deaths were in construction”3.
The cause behind many of these deaths were due to falls, being hit by an object, electrocution and getting caught between objects. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the previously mentioned means of deaths for construction workers is known as the “fatal four.” OSHA highlights the fact that, if the fatal four were eliminated, 602 construction workers annually, would have their lives saved3.
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Putting together computer hardware and software, VR is used to create a replication of digitized worlds in which users can interact with their new environment, and also others who are immersed in the same world. VR pushes beyond the scope of the entertainment industry and is now being used by several construction enterprises in an effort to reduce safety risks of construction training, while also reducing the monetary expense of training and travel1.
Gammon Construction Limited, a big construction firm based in Hong Kong, discusses the benefits of VR use within their practices.
“This training has successfully drawn trainees’ attention, stimulated their responses and attained mutual communication, which is more effective and convincing than lectures,” said Kwok Wai-yin, safety manager at Gammon Construction Limited. “Besides, it has changed their mode of thinking, boosted site safety and is getting us closer to the zero harm goal”1.
Wai-yin explains how by moving training methods to a digital platform, trainees are not putting themselves in danger before even making it to the first day on the job.
While construction companies like Gammon Construction Limited and the global construction company, Bechtel, are using VR to ensure safety training methods, insurance companies are also noticing the benefits of utilizing VR. Texas Mutual, an insurance company, has not only begun to use VR as a means of promoting safe practices, but it has also mobilized the process by releasing a free application for iOS and Android devices alike. The VR app offers training practices through fully immersive instructional videos1.
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The 2016 KPMG Global Construction Survey discusses the future of digital construction. According to the survey, “visualization is the future of decision-making in capital projects…rapid adoption of visualization means that virtual ‘tours’ of construction sites will soon become the norm”1.
An example of this can be seen in HoloBuilder’s JobWalk application. This app allows users to upload their chosen construction site through the use of 360-degree cameras. Once uploaded, the app walks users through the process of incorporating texts, pictures, web links and objects. The goal is to provide workers with the ability to visit their virtual construction site at any time in any place, allowing them to get as fully acquainted as possible to their site, before being placed in real potential danger2.
Through these companies and many others alike, VR offers trainees a safe, versatile and cheaper means of securing the knowledge needed for on-site protocol and skill.
1Harry. “Virtual Reality Based Training Can Make Construction Sites Safer.” Medium. HoloBuilder, 04 Nov. 2016. Web. 10 July 2017.
2Inc., HoloBuilder. “Go Where the Work Is with Digital Job Walks!” HoloBuilder. N.p.,n.d. Web. 10 July 2017.
3“UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 July 2017.