What is VR?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer technology that uses Virtual reality headsets, sometimes in combination with physical spaces or multi-projected environments, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user's physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. VR systems that include transmission of vibrations and other sensations to the user through a game controller or other devices are known as haptic systems. This tactile information is generally known as force feedback in medical, video gaming and military training applications.

However, when we shift our attention to behavioral sciences, we find a different vision: VR is described as “an advanced form of human–computer interface that allows the user to interact with and become immersed in a computer-generated environment in a naturalistic fashion.

VR simulates real workplaces for occupational safety and health purposes. Information and projection technology are used to produce a virtual, three-dimensional, dynamic work environment. Within work scenarios for example some parts of a machine move of their own accord while others can be moved by human operators. Perspective, angle of view, and acoustic and haptic properties change according to where the person is standing and how he or she moves relative to the environment. VR technology allows human information processing close to real life situations. VR enables all phases of a product life cycle, from design, through use, up to disposal, to be simulated, analysed and optimised. VR can be used for OSH purposes to:

 Review and improve the usability of products and processes whilst their development and design are still in progress. This enables errors in development and the need for subsequent modifications to be avoided.

 Systematically and empirically review design solutions for the human-system interfaces and their influence upon human behaviour. This reduces the need for physical modifications to machinery, and for extensive field studies.

 Safely test potentially hazardous products, processes and safety concepts. This avoids actual hazards during the study of human-system interaction.

 Identify cause-effect relationships following accidents on and involving products. This saves material, personnel, time and financial outlay associated with in-situ testing.