American fall protection supplier, MSA, is using the power of virtual reality (VR) to highlight the necessity of personal protection equipment in the roofing industry.
In partnership with Render, MSA has developed a virtual world that aims to change the way contractors train staff for work at height. A short video goes through the entire health and safety process, from choosing the correct safety equipment to attaching a harness correctly to equipment before scaling a building. Once on the rooftop, the VR allows the user to walk around before seeing their avatar fall from height and simulating the experience of a fall.
On Wednesday 19 September, MSA invited members of the press to the Intel Hub in Canary Wharf, London. Following talks from Sales Director, Alastair Hogg, Marketing Manager, Evelyn Webb and Managing Director of Render, Mark Miles, attendees were given the opportunity to try out MSA’s work at height virtual reality video.
For many, the experience was a lot more realistic than they had bargained for. MSA Customer Marketing Manager, Eve Webb said: “Sometimes people underestimate just how realistic the virtual world is. We want to raise the awareness of outsiders or those considering a career in roofing of the dangers this industry can pose and give them an insight into the realities of work at height.”
Since acquiring Latchways in 2015, MSA has become the only safety organisation to target the roofing industry on a global scale with virtual reality. The company believes that the work at height virtual reality video could have a huge impact on the way roofing contractors introduce staff to health and safety on site.
Now into its second year on the market, the VR roofing video has become increasingly accessible for contractors. Since launching, the price of VR technology has dropped considerably, meaning a simple version of the head/hand set can be purchased for around £800.
The ‘fall arrest’ scenario can be accessed in two ways. Customers can use HTC Vive headsets that are taken to customers, used at trade shows, and at roadshows the company hosts. They can also be accessed on a mobile through an app on both iOS and Android.
Commenting on MSA’s main aim, Sales Director Alastair Hogg said: “We sell our products into high risk, hazardous environments where millions of people are working every day. Our goal is to protect those people so that they get home safely each and every day.”