Workplace training provider Harness has unveiled the first of 20 virtual reality experiences which will be integrated into its education programmes.\nThe \u2018Working at Heights\u2019 asset \u2013 which is in the final stages of production \u2013 presents users with a scenario in which they must identify all potential safety hazards, and another in which they must build an unprotected edge at height.\n \n\u201cThis affords the employee a complete idea of what it is like to work at height, and gives them the opportunity to learn a range of skills such as hazard detection while still remaining in a safe environment,\u201d Harness, which has facilities in Brisbane and Toowoomba, as well as Papau New Guinea, Malaysia and Indonesia, said.\n \nFurther VR training tools will be available soon and involve working in confined spaces, working with fire, and giving first aid.\n \n\u201cThere is always a risk that someone will complete all their training, but when they actually get to a 50-storey building or an oil rig in the middle of the ocean, they decide that line of work isn\u2019t for them. VR technology means that trainees can experience what it\u2019s like to be in these dangerous settings before they actually have to go there, hopefully reducing the chances of this happening,\u201d Harness, which was established in 2006, said.\n \nThe virtual reality assets are part of a two year VR programme at Harness, which it says will increase knowledge retention in users and give its clients a higher return on investment on their training spend.\n \nThe assets are being developed by Activate Entertainment, a creative studio in Brisbane.\n\u201cIt\u2019s only a matter of time before VR becomes widespread. I\u2019ve really enjoyed working with Harness because they are so forward thinking. They\u2019ve taken a conventional way of doing things in a traditional industry, and thought \u2018how can we make this better\u2019? And the answer is VR,\u201d said Activate founder and managing director Tyronne Curtis. \n\u201cOnce traditional industries start to see the value in VR, it\u2019ll start to be used more and more. And in workforce training and development, we\u2019re already seeing the positive effects it\u2019s having with engagement and ultimately safety,\u201d he added.\n \n\nThe Working at Heights experience starts with an employee being met by a VR supervisor who gives them a number of tasks to complete. The employee must then identify all potential safety hazards in a scene (each decisionis recorded to give a score at the end).\n \nThe employee is then taken to another area, where they must build an unprotected edge at height. Finally, the employee returns to the original site, where their analytics are displayed for the hazard identification stage, and they are shown whether they completed the construction task effectively.\n\nData from the experience can then be exported into a learning management system.\nEffective tool\nVirtual reality is considered a highly effective training tool, by giving users a closer to reality experience than texts and slideshows could ever hope to achieve.\n \nIn June, Dementia Australia announced it was rolling out its hugely successful virtual reality based training workshops nationwide.\n \nThe \u2018Enabling EDIE\u2019 workshops use a virtual reality app developed by researchers at Deakin University run on Samsung Gear VR headsets to put participants in the shoes of Edie \u2013 a 65-year-old man with dementia who wakes up in the middle of the night in bed with his wife, needing to go to the bathroom.\n \nDeakin University is also behind the so called \u2018FLAIM trainer\u2019 which tests prospective firefighters by putting them in virtual scenarios such as a petrol station on fire, a kitchen blaze and an aircraft engine in flames.\n \nLast year, the University of Newcastle announced that its School of Nursing Midwifery would be using Samsung GearVR and HTC Vive headsets to run a simulation of a delivery room, presenting midwifery students with an emergency neonatal resuscitation scene.\n \nVR is effective in bridging the \u201coverwhelming shift\u201d between a classroom and a real-world emergency room, the university said.\nVR based training programs have been delivered at UNSW\u2019s School of Mining Engineering for almost 10 years, giving students an immersive experience of what it\u2019s like to work underground. VR is also used by fast food chain KFC to provide 'hands-on' training for cooks.