Virtual, augmented and mixed reality: in the service of OHS

by Jan 5, 2024Others

You may have heard of virtual, augmented and mixed reality becoming more and more a part of your daily life, but how does this new technology fit into health and safety?

The following terms may be confusing for many. First, there will be a clarification of the technologies mentioned above and, second, there will be an elaboration to explain how these innovations affect the field of health and safety.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality is often the best-known. It allows you to be completely immersed in a virtual world, i.e. another reality that is in no way the environment you are in. Video games come to mind as one of the most widely-used fields. It immerses you entirely in a 3D universe, with no awareness of reality or the objects around you. Think of Meta or Occulus.

Augmented reality

As for augmented reality, it superimposes additional information onto your environment to help you in your daily life. In this way, it creates an interactive experience with your surroundings in real time. For example, the Pokémon Go application is an example of augmented reality, as it uses the real world, but adds additional information as you walk around the city. Augmented reality is often used on cell phones or tablets.

Mixed reality

Mixed reality is the fusion of augmented reality and virtual reality. It requires a headset or eyewear that enables you to see both the virtual and real environments at the same time. It also allows you to interact with holograms in the virtual world, while considering your space and the objects around you. For example, for medical students, they could see a hologram of the human body in front of them and interact with it to understand anatomy in 3D instead of just 2D. Devices that use mixed reality are Magic Leap and Microsoft’s Hololens.

Now that the various technologies have been clarified, how can these innovations change the field of health and safety in the workplace?

Training

Very often, trainers want to demonstrate or train staff, but the situation is too dangerous to do so in reality. For example, there could be simulations of a fire, an accident or a dangerous situation that would put staff at risk. With virtual reality, it is possible to offer fully immersive training that places workers in a virtual environment at risk, while they are in no danger of injury. In this way, operators can interact with complex and delicate cases in a controlled environment, before being put to the test in the real world.

 

Ergonomics

Ergonomic design means considering worker ergonomics right from the design stage of a workstation or machine. Virtual reality makes it possible to simulate and test workstations. In this way, it is possible to identify ergonomic problems that could adversely affect the operator, and find solutions to avoid potential injuries.

Virtual assistance

Virtual assistance can be provided using augmented reality or even mixed reality, depending on the application. For example, it is feasible to provide information, such as instructions or real-time directions to workers directly in their work environment or on their equipment. In addition, experts can, via videoconferencing, help technicians by providing remote solutions, as they are able to see the employee’s reality. They can also, depending on the device, write in the user’s lens or even send them documents in their headset. In this way, the chances of error are reduced and safety is improved, as they have access to enhanced work procedures, and when in doubt, they have access to someone who can help them.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling enables construction projects to be managed using virtual 3D models. It provides all trades working on a site with the necessary building-related information. It helps to plan, manage and execute projects more efficiently and cost-effectively. So, with virtual reality and BIM, it’s possible to anticipate potential errors or problems before work has even begun. For example, it is possible to detect the risk of collisions between people and machines, as well as machine-to-machine or even machine-to-obstacle collisions. This is how safety can be improved.

In conclusion, virtual, augmented and mixed reality offer many opportunities to support health and safety in companies, whether through training, ergonomics, virtual assistance or BIM. Worker safety and well-being are two very important aspects to consider. With the help of technologies that are constantly evolving, it is possible to prevent risks thanks to these immersive and interactive tools.

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Intervention Prévention Inc.

Intervention Prévention œuvre dans le domaine de la sécurité au travail en offrant des services spécialisés répondant aux normes CSA Z462 – Sécurité électrique en milieu de travail, CSA Z460 – Maîtrise des énergies dangereuses : Cadenassage et autres méthodes, et CSA Z432 – Protection des machines. Nos domaines d’expertise sont donc reliés au cadenassage, à la sécurité électrique et à la sécurité machine. La satisfaction de nos clients est le gage de notre compétence

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