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article imageVirtual learning can improve employee safety

By Tim Sandle     Oct 2, 2019 in Business
Nottigham - A new report suggests that virtual reality training could improve employee safety in the workplace. New technology has been tested out using fire evacuation scenarios, using VR as a training alternative.
The study examines employee health and safety and considers how learning can be improved, as evidenced by deliverables like lower accident rates, through the application of virtual reality. One example explored is fire evacuation drills. To test out the potential, the investigators from the University of Nottingham produced an immersive VR system.
The developed technology was set-up to stimulate the test subjects' perception of temperature, plus their senses of smell, sight and hearing. the subjects were shown program testing out different health and safety training scenarios. Key to the design is human psychologically - understanding how people may behave in both set of circumstances compared with another, and how people react to an unfamiliar crisis. This is connected with the theory and practice of 'human factors'. Human factors is a multi-disciplinary research area, including cognitive, physical and environmental ergonomics; architecture; urban design; building physics; psychophysics; psychology; engineering; computer science; and product design.
As an example of the test, in one scenario, the subjects, immersed in virtual reality, were required to evacuate from a fire in an office. They both saw and heard the experience when wearing a VR headset. They could also feel heat, generated from three 2kW heaters, and smell smoke (produced from a scent diffuser). The aim was to fully-create a multisensory virtual environment. The subjects who experienced this were compared against a control group who ran through the identical scenario but who only had the audio-visual elements of VR functioning. The full sensory VR experience was evaluated to be far more effective.
According to lead researcher Dr Glyn Lawson: "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."
The full study features in a report is titled ‘Immersive virtual worlds: Multisensory virtual environments for health and safety training."
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