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The Benefits of Virtual Reality for Safety Training

Virtual reality is starting to become the norm for a broad variety of uses, with training representing an area where virtual reality immersive technology is especially relevant and has several benefits which deserve the be better understood. Applicable to such diverse sectors as sales, engineering, or surgery, VR training aims to create an immersive environment similar in every way to the physical world. Thanks to a VR headset, the participant evolves in a fully interactive 360° setting where they become an actor within the unfolding scenario. Much like a first-person video game, they are directly concerned by the events and must react appropriately to any happenings they are exposed to. These particularly interesting specificities of immersive learning answer the needs of EHS training very convincingly. Discover more about the greatest benefits of this novel concept with Immersive Factory.

1. Virtual Reality: A Format Well-Suited to EHS Training

EHS training needs to answer a set of requirements that are as varied as they are specific, based on the working environment they target. Its aim is to anticipate and reduce the risks associated with professional activities. That’s why EHS can benefit from a training approach rooted in a realistic perception of these risks. Virtual reality establishes convincing storytelling which promotes awareness by generating emotion and empathy.

The participant ‘experiences’ the situation as they would with real-life training, including possible emotional complications or the obligation to make an urgent decision when faced with a life-threatening situation. Team members then take the full measure of how important efficient training can be.

Within a virtual setting, your teams are confronted with a variety of scenarios that invite them to identify dangerous circumstances or attitudes, to perform compliant actions to align with instructions they received, to move through hazardous environments, to adjust their own behavior if they are to handle deleterious substances, etc. That way, they will know how to adapt their approach when faced with similar conditions at work. In essence, they will already have dealt with such issues, making them less prone to panic or overreact.

2. Engagement and Concentration

EHS training demands full concentration on the part of the participants, which cannot be obtained through a ‘lecture-type’ address. Even with everyone’s best efforts, passive learning will inevitably result in decreased attention over time, which has a negative impact on memorization.

There is little to argue against the efficiency of active modes of learning. Several methods advocate for practical sessions intended to engage learners and to make them want to invest their time and attention. Feeling involved in a situation naturally leads one to apply their thinking towards offering solutions to address the issue at hand. If the learner personally cares, they will put their mental faculties to work by focusing them on the events in question. The virtual worlds through which immersive learning methods allow them to progress are designed to empower the user by placing them at the center of the scenario. Their concentration is required since the program simply won’t move forward without them.

Virtual reality EHS training mobilizes their undivided attention (difficult to become distracted when you are equipped with a VR headset, immersed in the experience) and the sensations rival real life. VR bridges the gap between theory and practice and is a far cry from even the most sophisticated training room. Team members get to test their reactions in real time, and managers can easily check if they are able to harness these valuable skills.

3. The Power of Action Through Gamification

One of the main reasons why virtual reality is so effective is that it requires the participant be entirely implicated. If they do not engage with the scenario on a personal level, they are more than likely to fail at the exercise. Learners therefore feel directly concerned and become personally invested with the mission. 

To spark their interest, the program is given the form of a ‘serious game’ where members of your team can move through a stimulating environment influenced by every decision they make. Interactive and dynamic, it provides the user with constant feedback based on their actions, allowing them to adapt their behavior to how the situation evolves. This results in a rich, original and personalized experience where engaging challenges become a drive for ‘players’ to progress to the next level.

For the purposes of EHS training, one could for example imagine a ‘gaming level’ where a certain number of actions should be performed in a precise order and within a limited time frame. This would reflect the consequences of a real-life industrial accident. Team members thus come to realize the implication of such accidents and get a better understanding of how they need to act to assist others in hazardous situations. 

4. All the Action Without Any of the Consequences

The reason why it is impossible to test out such scenarios using traditional EHS training methods is that the results would be unconvincing at best. At worst, participants could be exposed to dangerous situations. This is where virtual reality training presents a compelling alternative.

The risk of making a mistake, especially when it could have serious consequences, does not contribute to effective learning. Practical training cannot be done confidently if causing an injury to someone or damaging expensive machinery is an actual concern. Virtual reality allows for serene interactions within a virtual world perfectly identical to the tangible one we know. The only difference? You are entitled to make mistakes, even if you are faced with an emergency. Participants are invited to experience a completely realistic moment without having to worry about the aftermath and get involved in the scenario.

5. Comprehensive and Relevant Feedback

During their virtual reality EHS training, employee receives real-time performance updates and understands the exact nature of their mistakes just as they take place. This data provides the user with the opportunity to self-correct on the spot. They also learn about the true consequences of a potential accident and realize how important it is to know and do the right thing at the right time. The events associated with this lesson find their place in the participant’s memory effortlessly, since they are the direct result of their own actions.

Managers and instructors can also use these elements during debriefing. They can highlight problematic issues and provide additional explanations where appropriate.

6. Knowledge Building through Recurrence

Reviving knowledge is the best way to make it ‘stick’ for good. Without consolidating freshly acquired information, the brain sets it aside as it does not deem it ‘useful’. When someone is first exposed to something new, they can forget as much as half of its details within just one hour! Less than a month later, over 90% of the information it contained has vanished.

To circumvent this pitfall, the most effective solution consists in exposing one’s brain to the same information time and again. One of the main benefits of virtual reality is that it is perfectly possible to redo the exact same scenario several months later. Even better, VR EHS training can promote a more efficient, more exhaustive learning experience by utilizing slightly different programs to call the same skills into action. The circumstances themselves, however, would be completely unique. This allows team members to learn how to use these skills correctly regardless of specific contingencies.

7. A Flexible Solution for Businesses

Infinitely customizable, virtual reality scenarios provide instructors with the ability to dream up any possible string of events and to integrate an important level of detail within the program. They can design a custom EHS training experience to target a company’s specific needs. They can even ensure the places and objects learners interact with look exactly the same as what they will be confronted with in real life.

VR training presents immense benefits in terms of scalability. Virtual reality equipment allows employees to get trained efficiently and as often as necessary without generating additional expenses. It also makes it possible for them to do so without ever having to leave the premises. This can prove crucial for those workers whose schedule is so demanding it prevents them from traveling.

Immersive learning provides stellar flexibility and saves businesses money. From a purely practical perspective, virtual reality training translates in – as we have seen – less time and space needed without involving many resources. However, it is in the very characteristics of this training solution that savings are most remarkable. To organize an EHS training session in real-life conditions and bring participants a gamified, infinitely customizable experience they can come back to again and again, immersive learning truly is the only affordable option. It also has the merit of allowing countless employees to be trained without generating additional expenditures. 

Immersive Factory invites you to learn more about various types of immersive learning solutions and offers a wide array of programs designed to raise awareness or educate your teams in a completely unique way. Are you ready to get started?

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