Virtual reality used in fight against workplace violence
I remember seeing demonstrations of oil rig workers using virtual reality (VR) software to navigate around an oil rig platform before they had left dry land. The program was part of an induction process and was designed to improve health and safety outcomes aboard rigs, most of which are located many kilometres out at sea and a long way from the nearest hospital.
The new workers were able to familiarise themselves with the layout of the oil rig, made aware of safety hazards and were able to identify risks, all from the comfort of a training room based in Perth.
By the time the workers arrived on the rigs, they could locate fire-fighting equipment, know where and how to evacuate in case of an emergency, and even find their sleeping quarters and mess rooms easily.
VR to the ‘rescue’
Now, all Victorian paramedics are to benefit from VR technology, which is being used to help improve their safety on the job. They will undertake new VR training to better protect themselves from violence when responding to real-life volatile medical emergencies.
Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy has launched Ambulance Victoria’s new Occupational Violence Prevention Education Program – the first of its kind for emergency services.
“Our paramedics are not punching bags,” says Minister Hennessy. “However, despite our zero tolerance approach, threats, abuse and violence against our hardworking paramedics sadly continues to occur.”
In 2015/16, Minister Hennessy says paramedics attended more than 5,000 emergency cases where they were exposed to violence or aggression. That’s an alarming average of 13 cases every day.
Of these, 581 cases were formally reported as occupational violence incidents, and another 296 incidents have already been reported in the first half of 2016/17.
How crazy is it that people skilled in administering first aid, and saving lives, often find themselves the victims of assaults? A lot of these offences can be blamed on patients affected by illicit drugs.
The program is said to use the latest immersive technology in which paramedics can learn behavioural skills and tactics when confronted with a violent patient or bystander.
Using the virtual reality program, paramedics are exposed to two real-life scenarios treating patients at scenes where they are exposed to occupational violence.
“We’re putting the safety of paramedics first with trailblazing virtual reality training that gives them the skills they need to calmly and effectively mitigate violence on the job,” says Ms Hennessy.
“Paramedics deserve to feel safe and respected at work. They do an amazing job saving lives and caring for us at our most vulnerable.”
The training program is being delivered by a team of experts in hostage and crisis negotiation, critical incident management, special operations and personal protection.
The State Government also recently announced a $500,000 Health Service Violence Prevention Fund to allow paramedics to trial high-tech body-worn cameras on their uniforms in high-risk locations.
Protection at your workplace
As an employer, what are you doing to keep your workers safe? You might not need to be investing in virtual reality software solutions but are you meeting the requirements of health and safety laws in your jurisdiction?
To be sure, you should consult the Portner Press Health & Safety Handbook. Written in plain English by the legal experts at Holding Redlich, the Handbook has 70 chapters dedicated to helping to keep your workers safe while you and your business remain compliant.
Don’t take unnecessary risks with your workers’ safety – or face the penalties imposed for breaching health and safety laws – get your copy of the Health & Safety Handbook today on an obligation-free trial to evaluate how it can work for you.