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We’re Putting Safety to the Test with Virtual Reality Training

Con Edison is rolling out virtual-reality training to better equip employees who work in some of the most potentially dangerous situations in New York on a daily basis. Virtual-reality training allows employees to demonstrate their knowledge of procedures, and safety protocols on simulated gas and electric installations. This training immerses them in a variety of virtual simulations so they can learn by doing without actually having to work on live equipment. Each simulation takes about 20 minutes to complete.

“Safety is serious business at Con Edison. Virtual-reality training takes safety to the next level by enabling employees to simulate the experience of inspecting a variety of gas and electric service installations, to prevent equipment failure or potential injury—something that traditional classroom instruction cannot replicate,” said Keith Scully, manager of Business Process & Technology. “It is another tool we’re using to improve the safety and proficiency of our workforce to achieve our mission of providing light and warmth to New York City and Westchester County.”

Wearing a headset and holding a controller in each hand—trainees stand in front of a big-screen TV where a module is displayed for the class to view. Following a brief tutorial, the trainee is asked to accomplish specific tasks. Beginning with choosing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), to conducting a thorough inspection and completing required tasks, trainees will encounter a few virtual surprises along the way—from loose handrails and missing basement stairs to curious pets, and the occasional scurrying rat. This prepares trainees to master their tasks safely while experiencing common field conditions designed to break their concentration. The goal is to help them maintain safety at all times.

The training program was developed by Con Edison’s Business Process & Technology team. The team looked at similar training initiatives in other industries and realized that virtual reality is a valuable tool—reducing the time it takes a trainee to become proficient. The idea caught on across Con Edison, so much so that a Training Effectiveness Committee was formed and meets every quarter to discuss how to make training more effective and efficient with the use of new ideas like virtual reality. Con Edison’s Learning Center has been a major contributor to the success of the program.

Con Edison’s virtual reality training program is one of the most popular learning experiences among employees and another way it is demonstrating its commitment to safety.

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues and $55 billion in assets. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas and steam to 3.5 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y. For financial, operations and customer service information, visit