GP developing more VR training modules for various safety protocols, with full slate of modules to be complete by early 2024; certain GP facilities began using VR in 2022 to train employees by immersing them in 360-degree views of their workspace

Sample article from our Tissue & Hygiene

October 5, 2023 (press release) –

Virtual reality is helping Georgia-Pacific enable real-world safety for our employees, and that's our No. 1 priority. 

In 2022, a collection of GP facilities began training on important safety protocols using VR. “We are excited about transforming from the traditional PowerPoint presentation of learning into something that makes the material ‘sticky’ and memorable to those that need it the most,” says Sarah Chambliss, project manager, innovation and transformation – Safety Center of Excellence.

During the VR training experience, the employee holds controllers and wears a headset that immerses them in real-world scenarios using computer-generated, 360-degree views of their workspace. Within that space, the experience is designed to provide the employee with a sense of unease when necessary. It allows the person to experience a “bad day” in a safe environment and develop muscle memory on important safety steps they might otherwise have to read about or wait to do once they’re on the job.

The Fort Dodge, Iowa, gypsum facility overhauled its safety training program in 2022, and the VR experience for control of hazardous energy became a key component. The module walks users through a lock-tag-verify (LTV) procedure, where they shut off a piece of equipment, lock it down and then test it to verify the machinery cannot run. Employees execute LTV procedures to confirm machinery won’t turn on or move during maintenance, which could potentially cause an injury.

Safety specialist Krystal Nelson says getting a virtual preview of how to perform LTVs is invaluable for new hires who don’t have experience in manufacturing.

“It gives them a really good start, especially if they’ve never been in a facility or never had to do lockouts before,” Krystal said. “It gets them pretty acclimated to how the process works and why it’s there in the first place.”  

Since the training updates, the Fort Dodge facility has seen fewer incorrectly executed LTVs that could put employees at risk.

Desiree Brunelle, safety specialist at the gypsum facility in Newington, New Hampshire, says part of the value of the VR modules is that the concept stops being abstract and becomes a hands-on experience employees can learn from before they go out into the facility.

“It’s very hard sitting in a classroom for eight hours. Learning, listening to somebody talk through a PowerPoint, or just doing quizzes on a piece of paper,” Desiree said. “The VR helps people have a general idea of what to expect in that aspect before they do go on the floor. So they’re not like, ‘Well I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.’”

Newington puts all new hires through the LTV module. The facility also utilizes trainings for mobile equipment and pedestrian (MOPED) interactions and working at heights. The MOPED experience helps employees know how to be safe around forklifts and other equipment that moves around facilities, while the working at heights training helps them understand how to reduce the risk of serious injuries due to falls.

In addition to those experiences, GP has also developed a VR module for hot work and is developing more for line breaks, confined space entry, lifting and rigging and excavation. The full slate of modules is expected to be complete by early 2024.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and our surrounding community members. It’s our most important job,” says Dawn Wurst, senior vice president of health and safety. She adds, “We have the responsibility to look for innovative technology and opportunities that lead to better results. It’s about learning and doing better for everyone’s benefit. That mindset is aligned with our culture and guiding principles.”

By changing skill-building tools to match adult learning techniques, Georgia-Pacific is creating more opportunities for employees to work together to make changes that enhance our safety performance. This creates virtuous cycles of mutual benefit that improve everyone’s lives.


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