German researchers are pushing the boundaries of virtual reality technology to improve construction safety by training workers in VR versions of their future job sites.
Workers can explore VR-generated construction sites with simulated equipment noise and movement, as well as the lifting and movement of objects in rain, fog or sunny weather conditions.
Citing an “unlimited number of lives” in a VR environment, the researchers at the Institute for Computation in Engineering at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum are studying behavior before and after simulated fatalities to better understand worker reactions and their role in safety improvement.
Virtual reality technologies are already making significant inroads in construction markets by offering a game-changing collaboration and immersive review tool that can be used to share information among the entire project team. Worker safety isn’t far behind as an emerging market for VR, offering trainers and workers access to near-real-world job site conditions without subjecting them to hazards.
Daniel Maxson, the health and safety director at Atlanta-based New South Construction, said his teams are successfully using the Oculus Rift for project imaging without physically putting workers on the job site. In addition to training, VR offers safety directors like Maxson the ability to analyze worksite safety hazards and communicate them to project managers. In September, Bechtel rolled out virtual reality safety training at the firm’s Innovation Center in Houston.
By subjecting workers to simulated fatalities, Ruhr-Universität Bochum researchers hope to gain behavioral data for determining why accidents occur and how to prevent them.