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A ‘Hole’ New Approach to Safety


If you’re claustrophobic, you’re not going to want to hear this: Working in a confined space is estimated to be 150 times more dangerous than performing the same task outdoors.

The Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association (SCSA), the Safety Association of Saskatchewan Manufacturers (SASM) and Regina-based virtual reality developer White Rabbit VR have signed an MOU to develop technology to make workers better trained for confined space work.

“Confined spaces are among the most hazardous workplaces. In Canada alone, it is estimated that there are 100 fatalities a year due to confined spaces work. There’s an urgent need to make confined spaces training better and more accessible,” says SCSA President Collin Pullar.

Part of the problem is the sheer expense of conventional confined spaces training methods.

“Currently, confined space training methods are either very expensive or less effective. Showing workers videos of confined space work does not fully prepare the worker for the sense of claustrophobia and restricted movement. It can be overwhelming for some. On the other hand, full-scale conventional physical confined space simulators are large, hard to transport and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says SASM Executive Director Desira Rostad.

White Rabbit VR has built a prototype VR confined spaces simulator. Under the terms of the MOU, the safety associations and White Rabbit VR will conduct extensive industry and subject-matter consultations with the goal of expanding the prototype into a full-featured product accepted by industry and suitable to meet the associations’ certification standards.

“This won’t be a typical VR experience. It’s not just putting on a headset and looking at 3D pictures. We’re aiming to use the best available VR, mixed reality and hand-tracking technology to create a true ‘holodeck’ experience in which participants are both physically and visually immersed in the training experience,” says Mike MacNaughton, president of White Rabbit VR.

“Our goal is to create an inexpensive, confined spaces training program that can be packed up in a suitcase instead of hauled in by semi. For the members of our construction industry, it will mean making confined space training accessible and affordable to construction companies large or small,” says Pullar.

“The bottom line is that we are trying to save lives. By using the latest instructional training technology, we believe we will make a difference in making sure our members’ employees get home safe every day,” says Rostad.

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For further information, contact:

Lyle Hewitt, White Rabbit VR 306-737-1271,
Ed Pyle, SCSA, 306-525-0175,
Desira Rostad, SASM, 306-525-3185,