VR Training Can Eliminate Risk for Dangerous Jobs


It’s 2022, and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years you should have seen a virtual reality demo or headset by now. With more Oculus Quest 2 sales in the past quarter than ever before (Even surpassing Switch, PlayStation and Xbox sales), and more than 50,000 concurrent active users during the holiday season, now is the time more than ever to “get immersed”. It is estimated that the AR/VR market is set to grow to over 200+ billion this year alone, and as of this writing there are more than 171 million VR users worldwide.

Now that we got the boring numbers out of the way let’s talk about the intrinsic value of VR and why it is a worthwhile tool for businesses that have an element of risk in what they do.  Imagine for a second you are a roofer, and you thought you’ve been trained properly, but alas you make a mistake one day and forget to tie a harness the right way.  This can lead to a fatal injury and also is very hard to train for — in fact, it’s next to impossible to train a roofer “in the field”.  Recreating this potentially dangerous environment virtually becomes an easy way to completely eliminate the risk associated with their job.  In fact, training in VR would remove the element of harm to the point where there would no longer be issues training that results in injury or worse.

Now keep in mind roofing is definitely a dangerous job, but according to a study done by the  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census, it is only the 4th most dangerous job in America today where on average there are 41 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Wouldnt it be nice to eliminate a portion of that risk by training in VR? In 2018 there were 96 deaths from roofing coming from slips, falls and improper harnessing.  I’m not saying VR is the end-all solution for learning better safety procedures, but there are definitely some lessons that can be learned to become a safer and more proactive roofer.

What jobs are more dangerous than roofing you may ask?

According to the USBLS data, the most dangerous job today in the USA is a logging worker, where their fatality rate is 33 times that of the average job nationwide.  The most common fatal accidents came from contact with objects and equipment. I did some digging and I couldn’t find any virtual reality training simulations for the lumber industry.


Virtual Limberjack by Husqvarna

The closest thing I was able to find was a virtual reality logging game where you can pretend to be a lumberjack  — this was launched by a Swedish chainsaw brand Husqvarna looking to drive more awareness for their brand.

There is nothing on the market for training to be a logging worker and the element(s) of danger associated with the job. Perhaps they are old-fashioned, hence the nature of the industry, but still, technological advancements need to happen and VR seems like a perfect fit for training and harm reduction.

The second most dangerous job in America is pilots and flight engineers, which to their credit have been using advanced simulators and fully immersive training labs for the greater part of the last decade.  They’ve seen considerable investment in their sector to try and reduce the element of risk and ensure that pilots and engineers alike are trained as well as possible before take-off.


CAE 7000XR Series Full-Flight Simulator

CAE has been leading the pack in this regard and they are building fully immersive full-flight simulators called FFS’s which are more advanced than even the latest VR headsets on the market today.

While there is no real need for virtual reality in this industry because of the existing solutions on the market, perhaps for remote training VR could have some impact as I’m sure these full FFS’s are not readily available or close by for all potential pilots or trainees.

There are also a number of virtual reality simulators readily available for VR, but perhaps the leader in this category would be Microsoft Flight Simulator that has been around since the early ’90s (1989 to be exact!).  And while this early iteration was in VR, it has evolved to be what is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.  For a full demo and review of the product check out this Youtube video from Tyriel Wood – A VR tech enthusiast Youtuber.

Rounding out the top 3 most dangerous jobs (Logging, Pilots and…. Oil & Gas/Mining) we have derrick operators in oil, gas, and mining.  What does a derrick operator do you may ask? (I know I had to Google it) A derrick operator works in construction many times and operates the crane or tower that manages heavy booms in order to move heavy materials and objects around job sites.

In the oil and gas industry, they initially dig the hole for a well and then force the drill pipe deep into the earth creating a borehole.  From there pumps are operated by the rig derrick in order to circulate mud and extract oil and gas!  Definitely, a lot of risky business going on here with dangerous equipment and objects.

There are a number of crane simulators in the virtual reality space already, but many of them are quite generic and I can imagine that oil, gas and mining companies would have their own set procedures and processes for how they operate.

That being said the ITI VR Crane Sim is probably the leader in the space because of their OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) accredited simulations which enable trainees to become certified through learning with their virtual crane simulators.

You can learn more about how effective these VR simulators are in this hour-long playthrough test and full demo from Eric Liga from HoustonVR.  He provides a full breakdown of the merits of learning in VR as well as the benefits of using a simulator prior to going into the real world.

While I’ve only gone over the top 4 most dangerous jobs in this article, there is definitely a slew of other industries that have a high degree of risk or danger associated with them.  Jobs like ironworkers, garbage collectors, electrical power linemen and firefighters all also carry a high degree of risk with their jobs and could definitely benefit from using VR for health and safety on-the-job training.  These jobs all have fatalities every year and if VR can be used to reduce that number even by a little bit then it would be a beneficial endeavour in my opinion.

Here at VR Vision, we help create those exact training scenarios, so if you work in an industry or job role with an element of risk or danger and think VR could be a good fit, give us a shout and we can explore whether VR would be right for you.



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