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Dennis Brickman Presents at XXXIst ISOES Conference

AURORA, IL - JUN 14, 2019 - As companies and practitioners embrace virtual reality (VR) technology for its potential to provide critical insights that lead to safer, better products and processes -- what are the opportunities for using it in accident investigation and reconstruction?

On June 12, 2019, ESi Principal Dennis Brickman presented an important paper on the use of this breakthrough technology, titled “Residential Elevator Child Entrapment Virtual Reality Accident Reconstruction Methodology,” at the XXXIst Annual International Occupational Ergonomics and Safety Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Co-authored by Erick Knox, Anne Mathias, Lance Rewerts, Jay Lueck, and Rodney Brewster, this peer-reviewed paper details the methodology and use of VR in the investigation of a tragic accident in Arkansas that occurred when a young child was entrapped and fatally injured in a residential elevator.

In the paper, the authors show how VR was used to help technical investigators in a variety of ways -- from establishing key facts based on the available data, to understanding different viewpoints, evaluating alternate scenarios, and determining what’s possible and what’s probable based on the evidence. By combining dimensional data about the product and environment with other information such as material properties, textures, and light, the authors created a true-to-life 3-D virtual environment which made it possible for users to:

  • Interact directly with the residential elevator in an accurately rendered environment, and better understand what happened before, during and after the accident.
  • Explore the environment from different vantage points, to better understand individual perspectives and see firsthand the hazards that may be unique to children.
  • Observe areas otherwise inaccessible to a viewer or camera due to physical or safety constraints.
  • Evaluate design alternatives as appropriate risk reduction measures.

As designers, manufacturers, installers, investigators, safety professionals and government officials work together to prevent these tragic accidents, the authors were able to use VR to help unify understanding – effectively bridging the gap between creating individual mental models of what happened, and being a virtual eye-witness at the scene. When combined with traditional investigative tools and visual aids, VR contributed to a more complete and precise understanding of the design/installation conditions that can create potential entrapment and crushing hazards for children.

Residential elevator safety has garnered significant media attention in recent years, with at least eight reported incidents involving child entrapment, including five fatalities. Details about the Arkansas accident were presented to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) earlier this year, and became a topic of Congressional interest during the April 2019 CPSC Oversight Hearing.

For more information about the paper or accident reconstruction methodology, contact Dennis Brickman at

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