All around the world, virtual reality (or VR) is rapidly being adopted in education and training. The interactive nature of VR makes it effective in providing a truly immersive kind of training. Instead of the education such as cramming a series of content into one’s mind, or watching a video or presentation, VR enables interactive education in which participants see, touch, walk and act as if there were in a real-life situation.
It is this reason that VR technology is being introduced to safety education at construction sites. VR education is effective in raising the awareness of safety hazards, because it allows users to virtually experience a worksite before going there. This is especially more effective for new or relatively inexperienced workers. Also, Samsung C&T’s engineering & construction group is making efforts to establish safe construction sites by introducing VR safety training programs.
SMAR’T: The virtual training program for equipment safety
In May 2021 Samsung C&T introduced SMAR’T (pronounced “smartie” and short for Samsung C&T Smart Training) a virtual training program for equipment safety, as part of its efforts to prevent safety accidents. SMAR’T is designed for equipment operators, guides, signalers, and managers, and is an experiential education program that trains people by directly identifying the risk of equipment accidents in virtual reality.
Smarty maximizes educational effect by allowing to learn educational videos over and over again. It also consists of simulations of real work sites so that you can feel the real tension around a risk or danger. And there is a range of equipment accident simulation programs based on situations can happen on real-world worksites.
Accident scenarios are planned according to the type of construction and equipment such as lifting, loading and unloading, pouring concrete, and working at height. The environment in the scenarios are designed to be similar to actual work situations where accidents have occurred, and are configured to give trainees hands-on experience of a specific situation.
SMAR’T numericalizes and analyzes accident records, the status of equipment and educational results. The SMAR’T also can separately predict and manage high-risk tasks according to the characteristics of each site. Moreover, as a safety educational program, SMAR’T has moved safety training from the format of form collective education to one of individual learning and utilizes wireless VR devices, so that it is possible both socially distance to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and learn at one’s own pace even while taking the training course at the same time as others.
The effects of VR safety training
Research has found VR immersive safety training to be more effective than traditional lecturing courses. Because it requires direct participation by trainees, participants show an active attitude and internalize safety knowledge and safety consciousness better than when passively receiving training. Also, VR training program participants have self-evaluated that such education will be especially helpful for mitigating the risk of serious injury.
In the first quarter of 2021, Samsung C&T Engineering and Construction ran about 100 training programs, and the effects were evident. Tracking tests were carried on people who worked at the same site. In the first iteration, trainees scored an average of 60 out of 100, but in the second evaluation two months later, the average score was 90 points.
SMAR’T is an easy-to-use, convenient, and precise equipment safety virtual training program that is expected to dramatically increase the safety level of equipment operators, guides, signalers, and managers on construction worksites. Since May 2021, SMAR’T has been introduced to domestic and foreign sites, and there are plans to launch it in 30 sites within this year.
One SMAR’T program trainee commented, “This training is much more helpful because it’s changed from a lecture-style education to a direct experience through virtual reality,” adding “I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know, and my thinking about risk seems to have changed.” Samsung C&T’s E&C group will continue to actively seek a variety of countermeasures to prevent accidents on worksites.