Salman Azhar, Ph.D. and Dongnyeok Han, B.B.C.
Swarnali G. Dastider, M.Arch.
This research investigated the potential of immersive Virtual Reality (VR) technology as an assistive teaching tool for construction safety and similar courses that require hands-on training. The most significant advantage of VR technology is creating real-life experiences without exposing the students to the dangers of a jobsite. Earlier studies recognized the need to develop customized VR content for construction safety courses that incorporates specific OSHA standards; hence, this study was conducted with a focus on this objective. After in-depth discussion with two construction firms, the research team identified three most needed areas for safety training namely confined space safety, scaffolding safety, and jobsite clean-up safety. A conceptual framework for VR content design, execution, and method of delivery was designed. Then a storyboard was created for each identified area to graphically depict the concept and workflow for the VR programing. Unity® gaming engine was used as the developing platform and VR modules were created for Oculus Go® head mounted display. Each module contained demonstration of the hazards and mitigation methods based on the OSHA standards. Questionnaire survey and SWOT analysis are used as tools to collect feedback and assessment data from undergraduate and graduate students and industry experts. The survey results indicate that the VR based safety education can play a positive role in improving students’ understanding, knowledge retention, and interest in the subject matter. It can help construction firms to conduct enhanced safety training without the need for physical mockups. The paper explains the strategies and lessons learned as well as provides directions for future research.
Keywords: Construction Safety, Virtual Reality, Gaming, Education, Training