Sep 17, 2019
A new investigation suggests worker safety culture could be enhanced through the use of Virtual Reality (VR) in Health and Safety training, such as fire evacuation exercises.The Human Factors Research Group at the University of Nottingham produced an immersive VR system to incite participants' understanding of temperature, and sensations of smell, sight, and listening to explore how they functioned during two health and safety training situations: an emergency evacuation in the case of a fire and a fuel exposure.
In one scenario, employees had to relocate from a virtual fire in an office, seeing and hearing utilizing a VR headset but could also feel the heat from three 2kW heaters, and could smell smoke from a scent diffuser, producing a multisensory virtual atmosphere. This group was matched against another assembly who were observed in this scenario using only audio-visual components of VR.
Earlier experimentation on human behavior during real-world fire events has shown that a lack of recognition of how the spread and evolution of fire often mean that residents are unprepared and misjudge proper procedures. Immersive health and safety training allows companies to train people about hazards and hazardous situations without putting anyone in jeopardy.
The Nottingham research, funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), found disparities between the organizations in the way participants responded to the situation. Those in the multi-sensory group had a more elevated sense of urgency, reflecting a real-life scenario, and were more likely to bypass the virtual fires. Evidence from the audio-visual participators suggested that they were approaching the event more like a game and actions were less consistent with those expected in a real-world scenario.
Dr. Glyn Lawson, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, said: "Health and safety training can fail to motivate and engage employees and can lack relevance to real-life contexts. Our research, which has been funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, suggests that virtual environments can help address these issues, by increasing trainees' engagement and willingness to participate in further training. There are also business benefits associated with the use of virtual environment training, such as the ability to deliver training at or near the workplace and at a time that is convenient to the employee."
An additional test was performed, as part of the study, to gauge the effectiveness of VR safety training versus conventional PowerPoint safety training. Participants took surveys, testing their awareness of either fire safety or safe vehicle disassembly plans, before and after training as well as one week after.
The researchers led gatherings, discussions, and interviews with partners including Rolls-Royce, for expert consultation around fire safety training and safe handling of dangerous substances. The University of Nottingham's Health and Safety advisors also offered to help the researchers completely comprehend how safety training may be implemented in business.
The research aims to provide evidence-based safety leadership for the advancement and application of virtual conditions in engaging and practical safety training utilizing cost-effective and convenient solutions.
A new study suggests employee safety could be improved through use of Virtual Reality (VR) in Health and Safety training, such as fire evacuation drills.
The Human Factors Research Group at the University of Nottingham, developed an immersive VR system to stimulate participants' perception of temperature, and senses of smell, sight and hearing to explore how they behaved during two health and safety training scenarios: an emergency evacuation in the event of a fire and a fuel leak.
In one scenario, participants had to evacuate from a virtual fire in an office, seeing and hearing using a VR headset but could also feel heat from three 2kW heaters, and could smell smoke from a scent diffuser, creating a multisensory virtual environment. This group was compared against another group who were observed in this scenario using only audio-visual elements of VR.