Development of a qualification module for risk assessment using virtual reality

Project No. IFA 5146


completed 12/2021


Risks do not only need to be assessed when machines are put into operation, but also when they are modified or linked with production processes (e.g. goods manufacturing and packaging). Manufacturers and operating companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), are required to have a great deal of knowledge in order to implement an iterative approach to risk assessment. In addition to specialist knowledge and rules, these companies must have skills and experience in the field of risk assessment, including the selection and evaluation of measures.

The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) has developed a training module for seminars carried out by the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the foodstuffs and catering industry (BGN). The aim of this module is to support self-directed, experience-guided risk assessments by means of human-system interactions in simulated virtual work processes.


Findings from both national and international literature promote the systematic integration of virtual reality (VR) in training processes. Firstly, learning objectives for risk assessments were described and the necessary requirements for human-system interactions were analysed and specified. Appropriate work scenarios were developed for the relevant training concept and the interactions. This ultimately resulted in the creation of criteria for the development of the VR environment, in which human-system interactions were successfully integrated in the form of virtual scenarios.


After researching literature related to the subject matter of the project, a human factors concept for the structured development of virtual environments was chosen. As a result of the systematic integration of VR in training processes, the VR-aided training module for risk assessment was handed over to the BGN as a key element for seminars. Instead of the visualisation media that was used previously in the training module, this module contains a modelled and simulated virtual environment. While learning about risk assessments, those taking part in the BGN seminars focused on machinery and electrical equipment will complete virtual work scenarios in which they will analyse hazards, assess risks, select appropriate risk-reduction measures (e.g. protective devices such as a tunnel or light grid) and install these virtually.

The human factors concept is also suitable for the implementation of similar projects. This concept guided the content that should be included within the VR training module, organised the development process and enabled practical implementation.

Last Update:

13 Apr 2022


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • Berufsgenossenschaft Nahrungsmittel und Gastgewerbe (BGN)

food industry

Type of hazard:

design of work and technology, work organization/safety and health management, questions beyond hazard-related issues


man-machine interface, accident prevention, technology design

Description, key words:

Virtual reality, risk assessment, machine safety, evaluation, usability, human factors, ergonomics, human-machine interface, human-system interaction, qualification, training concept