Virtual Reality For Mine Safety Training In South Africa

Squelch, A. P.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2001
The high incidence of accidents and fatalities in the South African mining industry, in particular those associated with falls of ground, is often attributed to ineffective and/or inappropriate training methods and material. Recently introduced mine health and safety legislation in South Africa also requires that all mine workers receive appropriate and effective training to enable them to operate safely in their given mining environment. There can, therefore, be no doubt that methods to provide effective training, in particular safety related training, are urgently required in the South African mining industry. In the search for alternative and improved training approaches, attention has fallen on virtual reality (VR) technology as a possible solution. VR has found acceptance in a number of industries as an effective method of training for a variety of work place activities, including those of a safety related nature. VR has successfully been applied in a number of industries to improve the effectiveness of safety and hazard awareness training. The CSIR: Division of Mining Technology (CSIR Miningtek), in conjunction with the Safety in Mines Research Advisory Committee (SIMRAC), therefore evaluated the potential of VR to be used as a training medium in the South African gold and platinum mining industry. Aspects of the evaluation included an assessment of the technical capability of VR to represent a typical underground mining environment with sufficient realism and the relevance of the VR training concept for a largely illiterate workforce. For these purposes, a prototype PC-based VR hazard awareness training simulator has been developed by CSIR Miningtek, and a series of evaluation sessions conducted at a typical deep level gold mine. The conclusion from this evaluation work is that virtual reality technology has the potential to provide effective training systems that are relevant to the South African mining industry. Keywords: Virtual reality, mine training, safety training.
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