Virtual reality makes construction site safer

The risk of accidents for workers on construction sites is more than twice as high as for employees of other economic sectors. In 2018, over 105,687 work accidents were reported to the German “Berufsgenossenschaft für Bau.” Of these incidents, 88 were fatal. We will point out the background of the most common work accidents on construction sites. Learn more about the usage of virtual reality and augmented reality to support accident prevention.

Accidents on construction sites

Before dealing with the exciting developments of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), we would like to offer you a brief overview of the most common causes of work accidents in the construction sector.

Overview from accidents on construction sites

1. Falls from heights

The highest risks for accidents on construction sites are injuries caused by falls from heights. In 80% of the reported accidents employees fell from a height less than two meters – the consequences can be minor injuries as well as long term disabilities.

2. Stumble/ slide/ traffic

Weather conditions and messy surroundings facilitate accidents. Next, to stumbling and sliding, workers repeatedly get injured in construction traffic incidents by construction vehicles.

3. Hand-held machines

Every year, around 27,000 people get injured by hand-held machines at work. Negligence and convenience facilitate this trend as 37% of the fuses on machines are changed to save time and money.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

Construction sites contain danger and a high risk of accidents. Employing VR and AR will reduce the risk of accidents in the long term. Training that once was theoretical can now become far more engaging and effective.

TIP: Get more information about the latest innovations in the construction sector
1. Virtual reality as a training tool

Definition: Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment. This technique is already heavily used in areas of training and education (use of flight simulators or operating simulators).

With virtual reality, the coaching of construction workers will be enhanced. VR glasses transfer the user into another reality. Accessories such as special gloves or a remote change the environment depending on the user’s interaction. Headphones ensure that the illusion of the construction site is as real as possible. The immersion in the computer-generated world enables to depict falling objects, a fire outburst, or various weather conditions realistically. Security experts use the information obtained to take work safety measures into account from the outset.

2. On-site with augmented reality

Definition: Augmented reality (AR) is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment. Video game players already use AR to transform a digital game in a real-world environment.

Apps for smartphone and tablet as well as AR-glasses will pave the way for the implementation of AR in the construction sector. AR enables construction planner to evaluate what’s concealed behind the already plastered wall, floor or ceiling. Construction workers receive an immediate warning if they are approaching a dangerous area on the site.

The smart glasses of the company SRI International are an innovation that can revolutionise the work of building inspectors. Manual measurements and inspections are automated with the glasses. Safety risks or defects can be detected earlier and more accurately by comparing the actual and target state. Defects can be photographed with the glasses and directly shared. This makes work more efficient, more accurate and saves time.

Conclusion

VR and AR reached the construction industry. With the introduction of Building Information Modeling, each building is digitally planned and created. The necessary data to create a virtual construction site does already exist. The application of VR and AR will facilitate the work on construction sites and support accident prevention.

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