Virtual Reality Aids Major-Accident-Hazard Awareness Training

This paper aims to demonstrate how virtual reality, a technology that gives the user an immersive 3D experience, is being used as part of major-accident-hazard awareness training and how this has been sustained to provide an innovative, powerful method of ongoing workforce engagement.

Source: Paper SPE 215563

The use of virtual reality (VR), a technology that immerses the user in a realistic 3D experience, is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible across different industries. Previously, its use has been mainly associated with entertainment and gaming, but the technology has also seen immense success in health care for training in complex procedures such as surgery, in the mining industry to simulate emergency situations and to explore difficult terrain, and in the automotive industry to improve driving and reduce accidents. This paper describes how the use of VR has been transformative in the approach taken to training in major-hazard industries including oil and gas.

The use of VR for training has seen immense growth because it provides an interactive learning environment that is both engaging and fun. For most people, it is something they do not use at home, so the experience is a major boon for engagement of a workforce that would have previously experienced many different, conventional training programs.

VR training provides an opportunity to simulate a workplace that is realistic, immersive, stimulating, and memorable for the learners. It offers many advantages over traditional classroom-based learning, which, even with engaging presenters, tends to rely on PowerPoint presentations that can be unappealing and reduce engagement. With a training program enhanced by VR, there is less training material required and the trainer’s time is reduced, making VR training convenient and easy to provide multiple times.

Simulations in VR allow for mistakes to be made without experiencing the consequences, providing opportunities to try different ways of working and explore improvements, especially in activities that relate to emergency situations. For sequential activities, the repetition of the tasks in VR provides a safe environment to practice, increasing information retention and instilling confidence in the trainee to carry out the task in the real world. VR training is proving to be very cost-effective, as it brings the site to the trainee, eliminating the cost challenges that come with travel.

In the oil and gas industry, workforce involvement is critical to the management of major accident hazards (MAHs); it is crucial that the workforce is aware of the hazards around them and their role in managing them. Training companies have created bespoke training for specific higher-risk activities such as confined-space entry, working at height, and lifting. DNV has taken the VR technology and developed an MAH VR program. Experiencing a major accident in real life is clearly to be avoided; however, VR allows the workforce to understand the effect of mistakes and appreciate the consequences of failure safely.

SPE members can download the complete paper from SPE’s Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability Technical Discipline page for free from 28 March to 10 April.

Find paper SPE 215563 on OnePetro here.