Construction is a dangerous industry, and safety issues can have a lasting impact on project teams. According to OSHA, one in ten construction workers is injured annually, which means that more than 20% of workplace fatalities in the U.S. occur on construction sites.
Training is essential to the success of a project. And when you look at the construction industry as a whole, it’s been relatively stagnant in terms of safety improvements. With the global construction industry forecasted to hit $8 trillion by 2030, there comes an increased risk of injuries on the jobsite.
Technology can aid in offsetting that risk by using jobsite data to create realistic scenarios for safety training. With virtual reality, project teams can navigate the potential hazards on the jobsite without being in danger.
Using its site statistics, Pepper Construction created an award-winning safety program leveraging virtual reality to enhance training. By creating a realistic environment to train workers, Pepper Construction saw a reduction in safety incidents on their jobsites. In honor of their training program, Pepper Construction was the recipient of a 2021 AGC Construction Innovation Award for its approach to using technology to positively impact safety.
We asked Jen Suerth, Vice President of Technical Services at Pepper Construction, to open up her toolbox and share how her team uses virtual reality to reduce safety incidents onsite. Watch Jen’s countdown the see what the top five benefits of using virtual reality to improve safety on the jobsite are:
Virtual reality creates a detailed and fun training experience by bringing teams into an immersive environment. While safety training is necessary for construction, creating an experience that teams enjoy boosts concentration and learning retention while encouraging the continuous improvement of their skills.
“Employees look forward to training because it is a unique and engaging experience that combines fun with practical lessons that are essential for being safe on the jobsite,” says Suerth. “With virtual reality, we can address any jobsite risk without putting somebody in an unsafe environment.”
Experiential-based training has proven to be more effective than traditional methods of learning. Creating an engaging environment where workers can address safety risks can provide the right tools and techniques to maneuver issues appropriately. Virtual reality retains employees’ attention and creates a higher level of confidence for teams to execute effectively.
“Construction is very hands-on, and so the training needs to reflect that. Taking people and putting them in a classroom environment for training isn’t as powerful,” says Suerth. “With virtual reality, we can fully immerse someone in training and create a dialogue by providing real-time feedback and coaching to influence and positively change behavior.”
The construction technology used on the jobsite captures a ton of data that can inform immersive training sessions. However, it’s important to standardize data to ensure you’re capturing consistent and reliable information to influence and create more impactful training for the field.
“It’s important that training is relatable and applicable. When we looked at our data and what was happening on our job sites, we saw that falls, dropped objects, and strains and sprains were the top three trends. As trends evolve, we’re reacting to them and applying that to our training, so we are continuously learning and improving,” says Suerth.
Learning by “doing” is a methodology that helps employees retain and sharpen skills. By enabling workers to get hands-on training, they can directly engage with the content to improve their skills and performance.
“Studies show that when you’re immersed in something versus just watching it in a picture or on a video, your body reacts differently. Being able to virtually walk through a training and experience the same thing you would in real-life helps improve retention,” says Suerth.
“To drive change, everyone needs to be part of that change; safety culture is bi-directional,” says Suerth. “Creating a transparent training and culture around safety helps people recognize that their concerns and their safety is everyone’s number one priority. We made our teams part of the process in adopting virtual reality for safety training, and it’s had a positive impact on driving safety culture at our company.”
Safety is one of the many risks on a construction project. By creating a safety-conscious environment, teams will feel comfortable reporting jobsite issues. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and establishing a culture where safety is at the center is critical in creating a successful program.
Creating a culture of safety champions is the first step to ensuring that you’re capturing consistent data to inform change. By equipping teams to accurately monitor and report site safety, you can utilize that data to help identify and prevent common problems.
Autodesk Build helps to standardize safety programs by enabling teams to take ownership of reporting through streamlined checklists, incident reporting, and efficient issue management.
Learn how Autodesk Build can help prevent safety blind spots and risky situations on the jobsite by creating and executing standardized safety plans for your projects.