Working at Heights
Headquartered in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng, ArcelorMittal South Africa is the largest steel producer on the African continent. Employees are often recruited to work in extreme conditions and at heights. Safety is a crucial factor for ArcelorMittal who sought a solution to test employees for acrophobia more effectively in a realistic environment, without endangering their safety. To be competitive, the solution also had to be scalable and cost-efficient. Sea Monster helped ArcelorMittal South Africa design, prototype and make that solution come to life.
Sea Monster created a Virtual Reality (VR) experience for ArcelorMittal South Africa. The experience is designed to test for fear of heights by exposing prospective employees to a realistic simulation of the ArcelorMittal Vanderbijlpark plant where they are taken to heights and asked to perform a series of tasks.
The trainee starts off on the ground floor, getting used to the Virtual Reality environment. They are guided throughout the experience using prompts in the environment, instructions on screens and the voiceover of a narrator. Once accustomed to Virtual Reality, they move on to the lift where they are taken to a height of 190 meters. ArcelorMittal South Africa has made the experience as realistic as possible, adding fans to simulate wind and even a moving platform to simulate the movement of the lift. Once at the top they are asked to complete 3 tasks, each designed to assess users’ cognitive performance while exposed to height. The tests also include a dimension to detect colour blindness in aspiring workers. Trainees are instructed to alert the instructor if at any point they feel nauseous or dizzy. The trainee’s heart rate is also monitored so as to alert the instructor of a possible fear of heights.
If the trainee manages to complete all 3 tasks accurately and in a timely manner they have passed the test and ArcelorMittal South Africa can move them onto the rest of their training. If the trainee is shown to exhibit a fear of heights they are reassigned within ArcelorMittal South Africa to a more suitable field of work.
The solution Sea Monster provided is an innovative use of technology applied to solve a real business problem. The Working at Heights VR experience has been incredibly successful, having been rolled out in December 2017, several trainees have already been identified as having a fear of heights and have been reassigned to other positions within the company. Expected results for the future include a significantly reduced number of injuries and accidents on site.