New Cat Safety VR module creates an immersive safety training experience for employees
Caterpillar Safety Services is developing Cat Safety VR, a new virtual reality (VR) safety training module. Customized for paving applications, the new VR safety training solution immerses the trainee into a virtual four-lane rural highway construction site, so the employee learns to interact with coworkers and identify hazards in a safe and controlled environment.
Road construction jobsites are full of hazards and distractions that create risks for employees, especially new workers. Tens-of-thousands of traffic accidents and hundreds of deaths are logged annually at road worksites throughout the United States. In-depth training related to specific road construction hazards, the importance of following proper procedures and effective communication among workers can help to reduce safety incidents at the jobsite.
"Given the industries we serve and the hazards workers face in those industries, having a safe alternative to real world training is important. As the workforce evolves generationally, so does the way in which training is delivered. VR is an engaging learning experience for all, and numerous studies have shown memory retention to be higher with VR than through more traditional training methods," says Zach Knoop, Caterpillar Safety Services general manager. "We developed this safety training module for one of our long-time customers, who is a world leader in the construction and maintenance of transport infrastructure. However, the program can be adapted to meet the needs of specific customers, industries and applications."
The new Cat Safety VR comes complete with everything a company needs to conduct the safety module. The kit includes a gaming laptop preloaded to run the program, HTC VIVE virtual reality headset system (including hand controls), mount stand kit and transport case. Cat Safety VR is mobile, so users can easily transport the kit anywhere to conduct training with employees.
Once putting on the VR headset, the trainee is immersed in the virtual four-lane highway project for a site flyover and a pre-shift "huddle" with coworkers. A series of five scenarios then plays out during the training session, which is designed to show employees the many potential hazards associated with paving a highway adjacent to live traffic.
After receiving instructions from the foreman, the user advances to the taper to inspect and installs traffic control devices, which helps employees to focus when encountered by unpredictable traffic traveling at a high rate of speed. Module scenarios at the paving train help the user to identify and negotiate blind spots, safely navigate around and between equipment, and improve communication with workers. As the module progresses, another setting features an excavator and coworker using a concrete saw to teach the importance of always wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Each decision made offers positive reinforcement for the correct action or a memorable negative consequence for an unsafe choice. The training module concludes with a daily wrap-up to reinforce the positive lessons learned and stress that no production "emergency" at the jobsite is worth risking the safety of the worker or anyone else. Total program run time is approximately 20-30 minutes per session.
"Cat Safety VR helps the trainee learn how to interact with coworkers, other contractors and the equipment, all in a safe and controlled environment," comments Justin Ganschow, Caterpillar Safety Services business development manager. "For both new and experienced employees, VR is an effective and memorable experience to support the company's overall safety training program and advances the safety culture."
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