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Virtual reality and construction inductions

Could virtual reality help mitigate the high number of deaths and injuries in the construction sector?

The construction industry has experienced its highest number of deaths in a decade with 11 people have tragically lost their lives so far this year and we still have over four months to go. “It is deeply concerning,” explains Amalgamated Workers Union National Secretary Maurice Davis.

First things first, what is virtual reality? (VR). Think back to 1999 when the Matrix was released! That movie was obviously years ahead of its time considering they have rightly predicted how humans are currently using computer-generated experiences going about their daily lives. In the Matrix, Keanu Reeves (aka Neo) lives his life in a computer-generated world he believes to be real while his nervous system is plugged into a complex AI-powered computer simulation called the Matrix.
Have we lost you yet?! How is this relevant to construction?
Hang in there!

Engineering consultancy Beca is making a pioneering move towards improving the health and safety of construction site inductions using virtual reality. They are developing an immersive VR model that can be used across the entire construction industry with the support of an ACC grant.
In a bid to significantly reduce workplace injuries among high-risk sectors, business across New Zealand were challenged to create and pitch ideas to ACC with Beca’s proposal proving to be the best ‘system-wide’ solution. They have been awarded a $6.26m grant towards the innovative technology.

This technology has already been rolled out by Fonterra for their health and safety training for its manufacturing and distribution sites.

Traditional induction methods often see poor knowledge retention, low engagement and don’t address the challenges of an ever-changing construction environment. The benefits of a VR powered induction experience are a decrease to trainee errors, it’s a more effective means of learning as it takes less time to learn and helps with knowledge retention. 

Using VR in the construction industry will help prepare workers before they step foot on site. It will also address language and learning barriers. By improving the efficacy of health and safety training, it could mean a much-needed reduction in injuries in the sector.

The Beca proposal is just one of the initiatives that will benefit the wider construction industry. CHASNZ (Construction Health and Safety New Zealand) is also a recipient of a grant and proposes to introduce 'Project Whakatipu', which will use predictive analytics to look at traditional health and safety data combined with people and operational data.

The goal is to create a Construction Safety Index (CSI), or data lake, which will be used to predict and generate better health and safety performance by understanding the true drivers of health and safety. This will then allow the industry to focus on strategies, behaviours and solutions to create healthy and safe workplaces.

The development of the index has the potential to benefit both larger industry players as well as small organisations.

Watch this space!

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