Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Joanne Wood, David Cliff and R Burgess-Limerick, Translating Road Safety Research on Night-Time Visibility to the Context of Mining, 15th Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong, The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and Mine Managers Association of Australia, 2015, 312-315.


In recent years a significant amount of research has been undertaken in collision avoidance and personnel location technology in order to reduce the number of incidents involving pedestrians and mobile plant equipment which are a high risk in underground coal mines. Improving the visibility of pedestrians to drivers would potentially reduce the likelihood of these incidents. In the road safety context, a variety of approaches have been used to make pedestrians more conspicuous to drivers at night (including vehicle and roadway lighting technologies and night vision enhancement systems). However, emerging research from our group and others has demonstrated that clothing incorporating retroreflective markers on the movable joints as well as the torso can provide highly significant improvements in pedestrian visibility in reduced illumination. Importantly, retroreflective markers are most effective when positioned on the moveable joints creating a sensation of “biological motion”. Based only on the motion of points on the moveable joints of an otherwise invisible body, observers can quickly recognize a walking human form, and even correctly judge characteristics such as gender and weight. An important and as yet unexplored question is whether the benefits of these retroreflective clothing configurations translate to the context of mining where workers are operating under low light conditions. Given that the benefits of biomotion clothing are effective for both young and older drivers, as well as those with various eye conditions common in those >50 years reinforces their potential application in the mining industry which employs many workers in this age bracket. This paper will summarise the visibility benefits of retroreflective markers in a biomotion configuration for the mining industry, highlighting that this form of clothing has the potential to be an affordable and convenient way to provide a sizeable safety benefit. It does not involve modifications to vehicles, drivers, or infrastructure. Instead, adding biomotion markings to standard retroreflective vests can enhance the night-time conspicuity of mining workers by capitalising on perceptual capabilities that have already been well documented.