Workplace training and safety is an increasingly important issue across industries, and rightly so. Workplace accidents and injuries are on the up. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2.8 million workplace-related injuries and illnesses in 2022, up 7.5% from 2021. The number of workplace fatalities stood at 5,190 in 2021, up 8.9% from 2020.
The increasing prevalence of these incidents means that enterprises and institutions have to put in new safeguards and find ways of better training their workforce for their jobs. A great way to do this is to incorporate Extended Reality (XR) into the mix. It offers you a safe way to prepare your employees for the day-to-day of the job via tailored training simulations.
What Is Extended Reality?
XR is an umbrella term for a range of technologies that offer digitally-enhanced experiences. It extends a user’s reality by combining the real world with augmented or fully simulated environments. It includes:
- Virtual Reality: The most commonly known XR technology, VR is a fully immersive, computer-generated experience. It consists of a digitally-constructed environment that allows users to explore and interact with their surroundings and learn skills in the process.
- Augmented Reality: AR involves augmenting the real world with digitally-created elements. It’s an interactive experience that most often involves superimposing digital images onto a real background, although it can easily offer multi-sensory stimuli, including auditory, olfactory, and haptic.
- Mixed Reality: Mixed Reality, in a way, is a heightened version of AR. It involves merging of real and virtual environments in a way that objects from both worlds can co-exist at the same time. It enables unprecedented human interactions, both natural and intuitive, in real-time.
XR training can help users safely explore a new environment or process in a digitally-created simulation that mimics a real-world situation. This provides learners with all of the exposure and practice they require to get accustomed to the job and carries with none of the risks of the actual job. XR training has been known to greatly improve workplace safety and productivity while minimizing errors and costs.
Examples of XR-Enabled Training for High-Risk Activities
1. Fighter Pilot Training
Training fighter pilots can be both a costly and risky proposition. Trainees have to be able to familiarize themselves with a range of controls while multi-tasking and remaining cognizant of threats and changes in their surroundings at all times. A mistake, even in training, can mean the loss of life for the pilot and the destruction of a jet worth millions of dollars.
XR training can remedy this. The U.S. Air Force, for example, deploys VR training for B-52 pilots. This has helped them slash training time by 95% and reduce eros by as much as 19%. Other branches of the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies use XR training as well. It helps expose their trainees to tactical and hostile situations and helps them hone their skills so they’re better prepared for the real deal.
2. Oil & Gas Rigs
Energy installations, such as oil and gas rigs are naturally hazardous places to work. Workers are surrounded by combustible material and heavy-duty equipment that needs careful handling. Also, they’re often in isolated locations, such as the middle of the ocean or a desert, where the environment adds to the challenge and can make it difficult to receive prompt assistance in the aid of a mishap.
XR simulations can help workers get used to dynamic environments such as these. They can help train your employees to perform flawlessly and react logically in case of unexpected incidents.
3. Security Training
VR can also simulate emergency situations such as a robbery or armed insurgence. Staff at banks and retail outlets can be particularly vulnerable to such incidents. VR can help simulate an event like this to help your employees get a sense of what might happen. You can train them to react calmly to each situation and follow company protocols that will prevent loss of life and property.
Benefits of XR Training
The beauty of XR is that it can simulate practically any real-world environment, offering you a host of advantages to improve outcomes and productivity.
- Increased safety: Simulated environments are undoubtedly safer to train in than the real world. This helps your personnel develop their skills in a risk-free environment, keeping them and your equipment safe from damage.
- Improved productivity: XR training has been shown to improve user accuracy while reducing mistakes. This helps them get more done on the job in less time, improving output and reducing operational costs.
- Quicker training: It’s much quicker and easier to train people in virtual environments than it is in real ones, depending on the industry. The multi-sensory experience in a VR simulation, combined with targeted prompts, helps provide a highly immersive learning experience, improving information retention and shortening the learning curve.
All in all, XR can prove transformational for industries and business processes worldwide. As technology advances, so will the applications for XR training. In the future, it could well become a mainstream training pathway for enterprises rather than a fall-back option, allowing them to do and accomplish more in high-risk spaces.