Transforming Traditional Safety Training With the Power of Virtual Reality

Sep 8, 2022 9:45 AM ET

Atlanta — The future of training is here.

Virtual reality isn’t just for gamers anymore; it’s propelling Georgia-Pacific in a new direction when it comes to keeping employees safe, and that’s our number one priority.

Over the past year, a growing number of our manufacturing facilities have been training on how to control hazardous energy using VR. “We are excited about transforming from the traditional PowerPoint presentation of learning into something that makes the material “sticky” and memorable to those that need it the most,” says Sarah Chambliss, project manager, innovation and transformation – Safety Center of Excellence.

As part of our Stewardship Framework, our safety teams are continually building capability in our employees and resilience in our systems to prevent serious incidents. We strive to learn at an ever-increasing rate to succeed and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

During the training experience, the employee holds controllers and wears a VR headset that immerses them in real-world scenarios using computer-generated 360 views of their workspace. Within that space, the experience is designed to provide the employee with a sense of unease when necessary. It allows the person to experience a “bad day” in a safe environment and develop muscle memory on important safety steps they might otherwise have to read about or wait to do once they’re on the job.

Immersive learning experiences include scenarios like control of hazardous energy, working at heights, and confined space entry. The Georgia-Pacific team has two of the experiences developed, with the remaining targeted to be complete by the end of 2022.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and our surrounding community members. It’s our most important job,” says Dawn Wurst, senior vice president of health and safety. She added, “We have the responsibility to look for innovative technology and opportunities that lead to better results. It’s about learning and doing better for everyone’s benefit. That mindset is aligned with our culture and guiding principles.”

By changing skill-building tools to match adult learning techniques, Georgia-Pacific is creating more opportunities for employees to work together to make changes that increase our safety performance. This creates virtuous cycles of mutual benefit that improve everyone’s lives.

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