The safety space is easily one of the most critical parts of any successful business; the concept of safety is larger than physical safety alone and it is no surprise that even in high-risk industries like oil and gas, or construction to name a few, the considerations of psychological safety are just as important.
To better prepare workers to perform their jobs, there has to be adequate training as well as a company-wide culture of trust and care.
But the stats speak for themselves. The ILO (International Labour Organization) estimates that almost 3 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases and about 402 millions people suffer serious non-fatal accidents in the workplace, every year.
And although these statistics alone would stop us in our tracks, beyond those numbers of deaths and injuries, it is the human and financial cost and impact on businesses and governments that are phenomenal.
H&S risk assessments leading to protocols and training are pivotal in changing the impact of these statistics. And whilst elimination, substitution, and engineering controls are best to limit and avoid accidents, procedures and training are also central to making a difference.
In high-risk industries where adequate training is essential, traditional methods can prove limited in scope and effectiveness; this is why implementing virtual reality safety training as a part of your overall safety management plan is the way of the future.
So what are the benefits of virtual reality training?
1. A training style best suited to us, Humans!
Perhaps one of the biggest elements when it comes to training people is to realize: we are dealing with humans. People are complex, emotional Beings with limited focus and attention span.
VR safety software can not only address the issue of focus simply by limiting, even eradicating distractions whilst you are immersed in a simulation; it can also create an environment so realistic that you are emotionally connected to it (more on this below).
And when there is no opportunity to multitask, the result speaks for itself: the engagement and knowledge retention from full concentrated training effort are tenfold. In fact, a recent PWC study found that people taking part in VR training are “4x more focused than their e-learning peers”.
2. Gamified immersive training that enhances the learning experience
Following on the realization we are Humans after all, we seem to engage a lot more when we are presented with a fun and interactive way to learn. VR safety software is designed to immerse employees in realistic scenarios, enabling them to practice tasks in stress-free environments. And by including an element of play, you also achieve better engagement and higher knowledge retention; the employees can practice tasks and learn skills in livelier and more interactive simulations. It enhances the learning experience and uses many different learning styles.
Not only that, but by including situations, albeit in a simulated environment which involve your safety as well as the safety of others, you become more emotionally connected. This connection is key to an efficient learning experience.
And this is one of the key differences and strengths of Pixaera in this space; we approach virtual reality training solutions from a Game Design perspective. We apply our expertise in AAA gaming to the safety training realm and are able to create some of the most realistic, engaging, and versatile safety simulations on the market.
Ryan Lewis, creative director at Pixaera
Graphics is and always will be the key to attachment, feelings and pure immersion. They are beautiful and we push those boundaries daily on the tech we have today. Along with good sound and game-play, we have something that people can feel, hear and relate to.”
3. Realistic scenarios where making mistakes is safe and encouraged
Encouraging making mistakes? That is bold! But don’t we often hear we learn best through making mistakes?
One of the significant advantages of VR training is that it can simulate scenarios that would be impractical, dangerous or costly to replicate in real life. Yet, we need to have workers ready to tackle work in often hazardous settings and feel confident to perform and take calculated risks, and even stop work when things become unsafe. Understanding the tasks, how to perform them but also recognising when it is unsafe to proceed are critical in reducing small incidents as much as bigger accidents. Beyond creating a culture where employees feel safe to report an incident or to take those calculated risks, they also need to see those risks once in the real world.
In a recent case study
conducted with Shell, one of Pixaera’s clients, their HSSE manager
(Americas) Steven Wrobleski noted “We are not going to put people in
harm's way in order to train but in the virtual world, you can do that,
right? And that's really part of the power.”
And it is powerful because
it allows people to learn from their mistakes whilst keeping safe and
prepared to cope and perform the work once they are sent out to do it.
4. The importance of a great feedback loop and adaptive safety training solution
Another benefit of virtual reality training is whilst it provides an immersive experience for employees, it is also a safe environment with a great feedback loop. Right along the training journey, the software collects critical data fully individualized to each worker and their personal experience within the simulation.
And this data is powerful because:
- You can establish the areas each employee is struggling with and tailor the training / revisit the teaching to focus on those areas in which they are lacking.
- You can recognise overall trends across multiple sessions and employees and see some of the red flags and areas organizations need to focus on; where they should invest and coach further.
The example of “STOP WORK”, which is available across the different modules of the training software, can really highlight a critical trend within the workplace: is it an isolated issue with an individual not able to recognise when a situation is unsafe or could it be indicative of a wider trend such as the lack of a psychological safety culture within the organization; Is there a need to concentrate on training workers to better recognise potential risks or should the focus be on empowering staff to voice their concerns or report incidents without fear, even if unjustified of bad consequences?
This is why such data and analytics are invaluable to an
organization and will enable to foster a strong safety culture but also
help create more tailored safety training solutions within their safety
management plans; whether it be to concentrate on training teams as a
whole or focus efforts where it’s most needed, on a case-to-case basis.
5. The scalability of VR training software is second to none
VR safety training is highly scalable, making it an integral part of any company's safety training management plan. This approach is flexible for both the employer and employee.
In theory, employees can access VR training at their own pace, on their own schedule, and get instant feedback and assessment at every stage of their training.
When new trends or protocols are implemented, the company's safety training programs can also grow and adapt quickly and easily without compromising quality or the ability to meet the training needs of the employees.
When the company itself grows in scope and personnel,
training can be started quickly, spread across easily and updated
6. Found to be cost effective
Implementing a VR safety training doesn’t mean letting go of traditional training methods, but rather blending the curricula so they complement each other, both in style and topics.
Traditional training methods alone can be expensive and time-consuming; equipment, trainers, and facility costs add up quickly. Even the updating of the curriculum can prove to be a challenge.
In fact, as that same PWC study found: it only takes 375 learners to achieve parity of cost with in-class training and subsequent learners make it more cost effective to implement a VR training solution. And that’s in best case scenarios.
One of the advantages of VR training is that platforms and modules are often already designed and may only require small tweaks before deployment, reducing the time it takes to put it into place. It also often comes with on-going customer and technical support, regular updates that can be quickly implemented, detailed analytics; which all make for an efficient, time-saving, and adaptable training approach and it will save money in the long run.
Companies can then train employees remotely, allowing for flexible scheduling and fewer training-related travel expenses.
But beyond that, it is the cost of safety and what “could-be” that we need to consider. Though not easily quantifiable on paper, It is still evident that investing into the best training methods for your employees is largely more cost-saving than dealing with the financial and human consequences of occupational deaths or work-related injuries.
So it is not just a battle of VR training vs traditional training and which of these is best; in fact we would be as bold as saying VR training software are not meant to fully replace the need for coaches and in-class learning environment; however VR training software is revolutionizing the way safety training is approached globally.
When it comes to safety training management, Mousa Yassin, Pixaera’s founder and CEO recently highlighted that “stakes are so high but yet we still take people into classrooms.”
And it needs to evolve.
Mousa Yassin, Founder and Ceo at Pixaera
"Gaming was disconnected from the enterprise world.”
How powerful would it be to develop a platform using AAA game technology and animation for safety management training!
So whilst not in complete isolation from other methods, VR is the best training solution because:
it greatly enhances and improves the engagement and knowledge retention across workers through immersive play and realistic simulations
It comes with data and analytics that enables training to adapt to areas identified as lacking
and provides a practical, safe, flexible, scalable and cost-effective way to do so!