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Training professionals in every industry have long sought the best way to train workers on potentially dangerous tasks carried out in hazardous environments. Nowhere is the need for safe training solutions greater than in construction, where the untrained or unwary can encounter significant threats to their health and safety. No classroom training can do an adequate job of preparing workers for the reality of the jobsite. Fortunately, immersive virtual reality can.
Safety Training using Immersive Virtual Reality
Virtual reality technology has come a long way in recent years. Both hardware and software advances have made it possible to reproduce working environments and tasks with a high degree of realism. As the technology has become more sophisticated, it also has become more affordable, making safety training using immersive virtual reality within the reach of even smaller construction companies.
It’s not only safety training that gets a boost from the use of immersive virtual reality. Immersive VR training lets workers get practical, hands-on experience without actually putting their hands on physical materials, tools, or equipment. The level of realism is enough for them to learn new skills and improve their current performance level without the risk or expense involved in actual on-the-job training in the real world.
Benefits of Construction Safety Training Using Immersive Virtual Reality
The opportunity to train using VR technology can be a powerful recruiting tool for young people by letting them see that construction is not the dirty, dangerous, low-paid manual work they may imagine it to be. For a generation that has grown up playing video games and already has some familiarity with virtual environments, immersive VR training is proof that today’s construction industry is, in fact, future focused.
Immersive VR training enables workers to practice solving problems that cannot be realistically simulated with slides or videos. It also gives them an opportunity to conquer any misgivings they may have about working at a height or with heavy equipment, which can build confidence and prepare them to apply the same skills in the real world. Additionally, VR tracking data makes it possible to assess learner progress based on eye and hand movements and how learners interact with tools, materials, and other workers in virtual simulations.
Immersive virtual reality training is cost-effective, and will become even more so as VR hardware and software continue to become more affordable. Also, VR training eliminates the need for new workers to learn and practice using expensive materials, tools, and equipment and reduces the need for experienced workers and supervisors to devote time to training.
The most significant benefit immersive VR training offers for both workers and construction firms is the increase in jobsite safety. Individuals are less likely to be injured or cause injury to others, which is good news in terms of both human health and safety and a construction firm’s financial health. A good safety record increases a contractor’s chances of landing new jobs and qualifying for low premium rates on insurance and construction bonds.
Impact on Construction Bonding
The most commonly required type of construction bond is a performance bond. A performance bond ensures the project owner doesn’t get stuck paying out of pocket to complete work left unfinished by a contractor who becomes insolvent or defaults on the job for any other reason. A major accident, especially one resulting in the loss of life or limb, can make it difficult for a contractor to complete a job on time and within budget.
One of the things the underwriters look at in qualifying a contractor for a performance bond is the contractor’s safety record and the likelihood of default resulting in the project owner making a claim on the bond. Using immersive virtual reality for training purposes helps ensure a clean safety record and demonstrates a high level of commitment to workplace safety.
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