“Virtual reality provides experience-based learning, in which the students learn to observe high-risk areas. This is an essential thing in occupational safety at construction sites but difficult to grasp on paper. 360 video differs from normal video in that when you put VR glasses on and turn around, you can see your whole surroundings and get a good sense of the space as well as an understanding of the types of risk that lurk at the worksite.”
Hannu-Pekka Talvinen, Education Coordinator, TAKK
A real feel for the safety risks at the worksite
The Tampere Adult Education Centre (TAKK), which organises occupational safety training, was in need of new ways to support the learning of students with an immigrant background in particular. Being an agile educational operator, TAKK acquainted itself with the opportunities offered by virtual reality under Leonidas’s guidance.
“We want to be a pioneer in reforming learning methods. If you want to make progress, you have to find the courage to boldly experiment. Virtual reality proved to be just the right technology in a situation where the students may have an insufficient understanding of Finnish and images alone must convey the essential things. An experiential virtual tour of the worksite is just the right way to internalise the safety risks related to the construction industry,” says Education Coordinator Hannu-Pekka Talvinen from TAKK.
Virtual reality complements occupational safety training
Those working in the construction industry are required to have an occupational safety card. Merely completing the training for the card is not enough to guarantee occupational safety. Instead, even young workers must truly understand not only the occupational safety regulations for construction sites but also the risks that exist at worksites. Large construction sites are constantly changing and complex entities where the working conditions also keep changing.
“We pondered together with Leonidas’ employees how virtual reality could be utilised in the construction industry. We decided to develop an application that allows students to move inside a construction site in a safe environment and learn what the site is like, what it sounds like and how much concentration and ability to assess risks is already required just for moving about the site,” says Hannu-Pekka Talvinen.
Accompanied by a filming team from Rakka Creative, representatives of TAKK and Leonidas visited a construction site in Tampere and the educational institution in order to film with the 360 technology required for the virtual application. After editing the material, Leonidas used it to build the first pilot application. The main idea of the application is that students will be able to learn to observe dangerous and high-risk areas by spotting them in the application. The result provided at the end of the game shows the number of places in which the student made correct observations.
“Virtual reality provides experience-based learning, in which the students learn to observe high-risk areas. This is an essential thing in occupational safety at construction sites but difficult to grasp on paper. 360 video differs from normal video in that when you put VR glasses on and turn around, you can you can see your whole surroundings and get a good sense of the space as well as an understanding of the types of risk that lurk at the worksite,” Talvinen describes.
Everything is surprisingly easy with Leonidas’ help
According to Hannu-Pekka Talvinen, the employees of Leonidas have been genuinely interested in the application project, and their drive has remained excellent throughout the project. He himself has learned new things thanks to Leonidas’ technology expertise.
“I had no understanding of VR glasses and other VR equipment and had never even tried them before. I was surprised that an application downloaded to an ordinary phone would be so extremely easy to use. It requires no special skills. The menu is easy to navigate with your gaze and by tapping with your finger. We intend to further improve its usability so that students with an immigrant background are immediately able to use it. We are designing illustrated instructions together with Iikka Pohjola of Leonidas,” says Hannu-Pekka. He believes that the same type of application could also be adapted to serve the construction industry more extensively.
“Technology evolves and provides amazing opportunities. I believe that the construction and technology industries would also benefit from a similar application. The application would also work in training foreign labour because the live image and operations say it all. Next, I want to find out more about the training opportunities offered by holograms, which the employees of Leonidas have already introduced us to,” Talvinen envisions.
Instructor Jyrki Lempinen from TAKK also got his first feel for the opportunities provided by virtual technology during the VR project, and he was involved in designing the application. “I’ve been completely satisfied with Leonidas’ contribution throughout this project. We have always quickly received an answer as to how one of our ideas should be implemented in practice. The end result has exceeded my expectations, as I myself was surprised by the high quality of the application’s interface and image,” says Lempinen.
The application has been presented to TAKK’s personnel and students. “Immigrants have been a little hesitant to try out the new technology, but they were excited about the virtual reality. Only the scene with the circular saw, in which the machine operator momentarily loses focus and sausage fingers drenched in ketchup blood go flying, managed to give people a fright. It is, admittedly, a startling scene. The same applies to a construction site scene in which a man handling a wheelbarrow is moving backwards without taking proper caution and falls through a gap in the scaffolding. These carefully staged scenes efficiently awaken people to the dangerous situations that can occur at worksites,” Lempinen sums up.
The VR application has also been presented to corporate customers outside of TAKK as an additional element of occupational safety training. The reception has been enthusiastic. “Some of those who tried it were already pleased to see a large worksite with a realistic soundscape. For civilians, virtual reality is the only way to experience the conditions at a dangerous worksite,” states Jyrki Lampinen.