Title: Training in a virtual environment for high risk work at heights

Authors: Sandra Scott; Jennifer Tichon; Trevor J. Hine

Addresses: School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Queensland 4122, Australia ' Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, Kelvin Grove, Queensland 4122, Australia ' School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Queensland 4122, Australia; Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland 4222, Australia

Abstract: Falls from a height are a common reason for workplace fatalities in the construction industry. Such high-risk work is likely to remain inherent in construction tasks requiring further efforts to reduce the risk of falling. As an underlying instability in balance may promote the development of height phobia, the current study investigated the role of fear of heights, and individual's postural response (PR) to the perturbation of an elevated work platform while exposed to simulated heights scenarios in virtual reality (VR). Postural responses were measured during the VR training experiment and the Acrophobia questionnaire and motion sickness susceptibility questionnaire were administered. Results indicated that the height anxiety (a sub-scale of the acrophobia questionnaire) was reduced after the 50-minute VR session comprising five trials. Postural response improvement also correlated with decreases in fear of heights. Findings indicate that construction workers may benefit from inclusion of VR exposure to heights as part of preparation to work at heights.

Keywords: fear of heights; elevated work platform; EWP; training; anxiety; postural response construction falls.

DOI: 10.1504/IJVTM.2021.119813

International Journal of Virtual Technology and Multimedia, 2021 Vol.1 No.3, pp.229 - 245

Accepted: 17 Sep 2020
Published online: 21 Dec 2021 *

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