Objective

According to studies, deficiencies in safety training are often related to a low level of occupational safety. For this reason, we wanted to discover new ways of developing safety training.

The development of technology has introduced virtual reality (VR) into safety training, but the amount of research-based evidence of its benefits in safety training is limited. As VR safety training is becoming more popular, we needed to better understand its mechanisms and effects. The objective of our research was to determine how a VR learning environment affects occupational safety behaviour and safety thinking.

Today we know that understanding human factors and their effects is an essential part of safety management. Safety critical industries have already promoted knowledge concerning human factors, but our research project aimed to also produce knowledge regarding human factors for other industries.  We studied the effects of a human factors tool (HF tool™) on occupational safety and operation.

The context of the project was the construction industry, but its results can also be used to improve safety training and learning in other industries.

Implementation

The project was carried out in eight construction enterprises in the form of an intervention study, with 120 participants. We created exercises in safety training, culture and behaviour, in collaboration with the participating enterprises, and these exercises was implemented interactively in a VR environment. Half of the participants was trained through VR and the other half using traditional safety training on the same topic.  In addition, half  of the participants took part of HF training on the factors that influence human actions and tested the HF tool™ as a supportive instrument. By comparing the different training method groups, we estimated the benefits and challenges of using VR and HF training and compared them to those in traditional safety training.

Results

According to the results, the VR training strengthened the participants’ abilities to anticipate the safety of work situations and to identify issues affecting occupational safety. In addition, the training strengthened motivation to promote occupational safety and increased the participants’ safety knowledge. Participation in the VR training increased the initiative and activeness of participants to promote safety at work. Compared to the lecture-based training, the VR training also more strongly reinforced the participants’ experience of how useful employee-level safety measures are. The experiences of the training were generally positive and compared to the lecture-based training, VR training was considered more inspiring.

The study’s selected methods showed no statistically significant effect of the HF training compared to the control group, but participants of the HF training generally assessed the training as positive, claiming that it increased their understanding of the factors behind accidents, for example.

Virtuario™ – RESULTS IN TO PRACTICE

Virtuario™ learning platform utilizing the findings of the research project is available: www.ttl.fi/virtuario

Publications in English

Evaluation of the efficacy of a virtual reality-based safety training and human factors training method: study protocol for a randomized-controlled trial. Nykänen Mikko et al. 2019.
Human factors as a philosophy and practice to renew Vision Zero. Vision Zero Summit 2019. Teperi Anna-Maria.
Immersifying workplace safety with virtual reality. Vision Zero Summit 2019. Lukander Kristian et al.

Research group

The Researcher in Charge was Maria Tiikkaja, Specialist Research Scientist. The research group consisted of Vuokko Puro, Specialist; Mikko Nykänen, Researcher; Henriikka Kannisto, Research Engineer; Eero Lantto, Researcher; Anna-Maria Teperi, Chief Researcher; Tuula Räsänen, Senior Specialist; Tarja Heikkilä, Senior Specialist; Tommi Alanko, Director; Kristian Lukander, Senior Specialist; Jose Uusitalo, Specialist; Frans Simpura, Senior Specialist; and Pasi Polvi, Technician.

Schedule

The research project was conducted from January 2018 until May 2020.

Participating enterprises

 

Funding

The research project is funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund, FIOH and the participating enterprises.