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Safe skills development set for VR refashioning

Virtual reality (VR), which started as an entertainment-focused technology, is now finding use across industry sectors as a workplace safety training tool.

VR training encounters are being developed by BSC (Business Science Corporation), which is a local organisation. The company incorporates technology and science to aid clients in improving performance and solving problems. 

Darren Cohen, associate partner, and VR portfolio head, BSC, stated that industries like mining face hurdles related to the development of skills and making a difference in the aspect of safety training memory retention.

According to him, VR technology facilitates easy and effective dissemination of the essential skills that can be the difference between life and death.

Earlier, mining company professionals were trained through PowerPoint presentations, before they could venture underground. BSC has created an application where workers wear VR specially-designed headsets, to get the feel of a real mine. It helps to get them ready for the potentially dangerous consequences they might face.

Cohen said that VR prepares workers in very practical mining situations, while they are in the comfort of safe real-world environments. The immersive nature of VR is beneficial and adequate for mining safety training purposes. If miners make mistakes during VR training, they can start again. It helps to build their decision-making capabilities in challenging scenarios.

Miners who undergo the training know what to expect in real life situations. The VR training prepares their mindsets. Cohen adds that many workers are unaware that their movement, where they looked at and for how long, the sequence of movements etc. are all recorded during the VR sessions. The data is then analysed to formulate a worker’s risk profile, strengths, and weaknesses. Employers can take decisions accordingly.

Cohen explains that pre-existing training methods were simply not capable of providing the level of clarity as VR. Safety training experts would have to keenly observe every single miner, and determine their skill levels. Such methods bordered on impractical and were expensive.

He revealed that a major South Africa based mining company had given highly positive feedback regarding the new method. The mining company acknowledged that the level and quality of training it received in a single day, was more than it could achieve through previous 2-week programmes. It revealed that it was saving labour costs between R4 million to R5 million on an annual basis.

Cohen stated that VR-powered training can be used in any industry sector. He explained that VR works great because it is a wholesome visceral, emotional and cognitive experience. Knowledge retention can reach more than 80%, as compared to 20% of conventional methods.

VR works great because it is a wholesome visceral, emotional and cognitive experience. Knowledge retention can reach more than 80%, as compared to 20% of conventional methods.

According to the ‘Cone of Experience’ approach of American educator Edgar Dale, better learning involves the utilisation of more senses. VR achieves that and can set skills in stone by repetitive training. The gamification aspect makes things interesting.

Cohen revealed that BSC has had projects in the telecommunications industry, contributing to customer service training. Additionally, the company’s VR solutions have contributed to several other sectors.

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