Virtual Reality May Prevent Truck Driver Injuries
The future is growing incredibly uncertain for industries with highly specialized training. As Baby Boomers are beginning to age out of the workforce, many occupations, including truck drivers, utility line workers, and doctors, are struggling to replace their diminishing numbers.
In seeking to address this need, as well as concerns about an increase in workplace fatalities revealed in the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, some companies are turning to virtual reality (VR) to train a larger number of workers in a controlled environment to operate in a safer manner once they hit the road.
Virtual Roads and Resources
Fortune reports that two industry leaders in transportation, UPS and Linde, have begun rolling out virtual training environments. With a goal of training 4,000 new workers this year on the technology, UPS has introduced a VR system that allows driver trainees to operate in a 360-degree environment and identify a variety of road hazards. This enables the company to train drivers to accommodate pedestrians, parked vehicles, and other real-world concerns without the need to put them on the road and risk the safety of themselves or others. They also hope that the game-like system will prove enticing to job-seekers, who can engage with the training in an easy and fun way.
Linde, meanwhile, is focused on a broader set of challenges. As carriers of highly dangerous liquids, some of which must be kept at temperatures as low as -320°F, the company is actively seeking to prepare their drivers as much for delivery and material handling as with the act of driving. Handling these chemicals safely and efficiently requires a thorough understanding of personal safety, the delivery system itself, and some trained muscle memory.
Using a virtual environment allows the company to quickly build up the experience of their delivery personnel in the actions of safe delivery without the risk of accidents involved in on-the-job training. The virtual interface also allows the company to provide visual overlays, such as the internal systems that transport liquids through pipes on delivery, so workers can better identify problems when they arise.
Beyond this, Linde is involved in a research project in which the effectiveness of virtual training is being compared with traditional methods. The research is expected to conclude this fall, and we will be keeping an eye on any effects the project may have on workplace safety. In the meantime, if you have suffered an injury due to a transportation incident in the workplace, contact us today to learn how we can help.