States face flooding, other problems in Midwest amid storms
U.S. Home Construction Jumps Nearly 10 Percent in January
Trump's Plan to Rebuild US Roads Relies on Local Dollars
How OSHA Is Trying to Catch Up
Automation in the Construction Industry
Weekly Grind: Biggest Construction Award Winners and New Equipment to Hit the Market
Smart Buildings Continue Their Rise in 2018
Friday Funny: The Productivity Placebo
By John Biggs
October 23, 2017
It’s no secret that construction is dangerous work and involves a considerably higher risk of injury or death than most occupations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), at any given time 6.5 million people are working at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the United States. Some of the most common hazards for workers include falls from heights, trench collapse, scaffold collapse, electric shock, repetitive motion injuries and failure to use proper protective equipment.
Of course, proper training can help mitigate these and other risks inherent to industry professionals, but even training carries risks of serious bodily injury. Today, some companies are making use of virtual reality technology to train new construction workers in an immersive simulated virtual environment, which they hope will eliminate or greatly reduce the risks associated with workers’ training, and ultimately on the job for real.
Real world training, in addition to being hazardous, is also expensive, which is another compelling reason some companies are turning to virtual training methods. Construction tech researchers Rafael Sacks, Amotz Perlman and Ronen Barak conducted a study on construction safety training using immersive virtual reality and found that trainees maintained better attention and concentration in a virtualized environment, and that over time, the training with virtual reality was more effective than traditional on-site training.
“VR has been shown to be suitable for presenting trainees with hazards directly and realistically without compromising their safety. Second, the research has shown that safety training with VR holds the attention of trainees better than conventional classroom training does. Thirdly, VR can be used to give trainees a measure of control over the environment, thus reinforcing learning,” they wrote in their conclusion of the study.
The technology is not yet perfect, however. Dr. Faridaddin Vahdatikhaki, who teaches in the Construction Management & Engineering department of the Dutch University of Twente, warns that existing technology offer a limited number of training scenarios due to their proprietary nature, and that real-world behavior of actual equipment is not yet advanced enough to offer feedback that mirrors the real world. Lastly, most current virtual reality training is designed for a single user, which he says undercuts the most critical element of jobsite safety: communication.
“Given that communication is an indispensable ingredient for effective and safe equipment handling, training simulators need to address multi-user environment where several trainees can simultaneously work, or collaborate, on a training scenario.”
That’s not to say in spite of its state of infancy that virtual reality training isn’t being seriously considered or even implemented by construction companies. Chief Learning Officer recently wrote that companies including Hong Kong-based Gammon Consturction Ltd. And San Francisco-based Bechtel are making use of the tech to train employees. Bechtel is currently working with wearable technology company Human Condition Safety (HCS) in an effort to improve site safety, reduce injuries and even make the training process more fun for employees.
Chris Bunk, HCS’ Chief Operating Officer, told CLO that VR training environments “[create] a much more immersive and engaging environment for training the workforce.
The training modules so far in use include hazard identification, forklift training, scaffolding training and ironworker training. The VR training even accounts for environmental hazards, like how a new construction worker will react to working high up in a building. Bunk says the virtual training environments even simulates that vertigo-inducing feeling of height to acclimate workers before they set foot on that scaffolding in the real world.
HCS’ courses factor in things that would be downright dangerous to create on a real construction site environment, like someone unexpectedly crossing your path while working with heavy machinery or while moving something heavy. It also incorporates multi-user environments, where others in a classroom can simultaneously see what the trainee sees using screens.
So, can construction workers really be trained to work effectively using virtual reality goggles, hydraulic seats and joysticks? More than likely. And as more companies adopt virtual reality training methods, the technology will likely improve over time. Anything that makes training and on-site work safer for construction workers is a good thing, so this space is definitely one worth watching.
If you liked this article, here are a few more articles you may enjoy:
‘Reality Capture’ – Using Photogrammetry in Construction
Altering Reality on the Jobsite
Technology 2017: What’s Hot and What it Means for Construction
virtual reality training
Augmented and Virtual Reality: The Latest Job Site Technology
Ever wonder what’s the difference between a general contractor and construction manager? Well, you’re not alone! To help clear up any confusion, we’ve broken down the roles and responsibilities of ... Read More
If you're a construction worker, you're most likely working physical labor and it can get hot if you're working under the sun. Here's a guide for h... Read More
Pete says that Procore quickly breaks down the complicated pieces of data in his jobs, and presents them to the end user in a digestible format. "T... Read More
Hear Brad Hyatt, Associate Professor at California State University Fresno, discuss what students are learning in school to prepare them for const... Read More
Construction has always had a somewhat complicated relationship with technology. Over the last few decades there have been improvements in material... Read More
J. Colin Cagney, a director, KPMG Major Projects Advisory, knows that while most companies want to use data analytics to increase, they’re often no... Read More
Congress has passed the final version of the federal tax reform bill, and it will soon head to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. The qu... Read More
January 9, 2018