We recently came across a new application for the HTC Vive, the “Lathe Simulator” and we thought we would give our thoughts on using VR for Health and Safety Training.

The Lathe Simulator

The application itself is nicely made, well produced and walks users though basic lathe operation, fitting a piece of material into a chuck, switching on the machine and various other steps.

Our first thoughts were, why would you produce this VR experience, we have seen many examples of content at exhibitions where VR has been used to create a simulation but is it really needed?

Good examples of where VR can add value in training are maintenance on offshore wind turbines, where training on site would be dangerous and expensive, other good examples include doctors and surgeons learning how to use new equipment or practice new medical techniques in a safe and easy to access format.

Take a look at the simulator in action below:

For this lathe simulator based on our own teams experience we were surprised to hear one of our own team had seen a couple of incidents using lathes when training as an engineering apprentice many years ago at Rover Cars, in one incident an apprentice was polishing a turning piece of metal with the sleeve of their overalls, it suddenly caught and wrapped around the material and the sleeve was torn off their overalls, rather than their hand, they were extremely lucky!

Realistic and above all else, an excellent application

This lathe simulator does actually show injury and some of the basic fundamentals e.g. if your hand gets too close to the spinning chuck it shows a gruesome spray of blood and on reflection we thought it could be a useful training aid and actually could be used to improve awareness of the dangers of such machinery and score applicants on their health and safety practice.

The lathe simulator does precisely that and also summarises key learning points at the end of the practice, reinforcing learning and highlighting errors at various steps of operation so they can go back and correct.

Will VR have an impact on the Health & Safety Industry?

We can see VR having a big impact in the health and safety industry, reducing costs, improving accessibility to training and also engagement with it. No need to pay for a health and safety trainer to come and deliver a days training, a VR headset can guide users through common errors, showing the consequences and allowing learning through a more natural experiential process that is more in line with the actual experience.

Far better for young engineering apprentices to practice and make all their mistakes in a VR environment where they are actually using a lathe than watching a health and safety video or attend a training session that very quickly switches people off if they prefer a more engaging and natural form of training that gives clear feedback on their performance.

Getting the right expertise

Our team includes Psychologists who have worked in industry and also have extensive L&D experience and we would be pleased to work with any sector to help them improve health and safety practices in your organisation.

We can do this through:

  • Creating simulations using the HTC vive or Oculus Rift

  • Using mixed reality (Hololens) and overlaying instructions over the actual equipment to be trained on

  • Using mobile phones/tablets with the new AR Kit

Making use of our extensive expertise and world leading technology / simulations, we are able to help any industry realise their goal of being able to provide first class health and safety training, in a safe and contained environment.

Naturally, some of the methods outlined above are better suited to onsite training than others but we can accommodate your locations needs whether it is better and more practical for an empty space to be employed, a classroom style environment or on the shop floor.

The end goal

In the end, our goals are the same – to help ensure that the correct health and safety instructions and procedures are taught correctly, and in a way that is both practical and safe for everybody concerned.

Although we will be working together, we know that you are the experts in your field so we will be doing a lot of listening and learning about you, your business and how exactly our equipment and virtual worlds can be best put to work for YOU and your health and safety training. Our innovative technology can provide the solutions to the problem of awareness in potentially dangerous environments.