Traditional health and safety training can fail to motivate and engage employees, and can lack relevance to reallife contexts. Health and safety training also often takes employees away from their primary jobs, reducing productivity.
Virtual environments offer potential solutions by increasing trainees’ engagement and understanding by affording them experiential learning in safety-related scenarios. They can also be customised to trainees’ own workplaces and could reduce costs by allowing trainees to train locally, and at their convenience, rather than travelling to dedicated training facilities. A particular benefit of virtual environments in a health and safety context is the ability to expose the trainee to a dangerous (virtual) environment with low risk of actual physical harm.
While virtual environments have already been used in a number of training applications, they are typically presented as audio-visual systems, whereas engagement of other senses could increase the immersion in the virtual experience. These other senses play a key role in certain health and safety contexts, for example, heat and the smell of smoke in a fire or the smell of a fuel leak.
The overall aim of this research was to produce evidencebased guidance for the development and use of virtual environments which would provide cost-effective and accessible solutions for health and safety training.