A qualitative evaluation of the role of virtual reality as a safety training tool for the mining industry
Interactive virtual reality (VR) is the most recent technology used to train workers for extreme event scenarios. VR training occurs in a safe and controlled environment and has the added benefit that it allows replicable testing of such scenarios. Like any other training method, VR based training must be evaluated. This study investigated the extent to which virtual training environment is able to address the training needs of the mining industry and overcome onsite (real world) training constraints. The present study was conducted with Coal Services Pty Ltd, a pioneering training provider for the coal mining industry in NSW, Australia. The research focused on specific training programs developed for the mine rescue brigades. These brigade teams are made up of highly specialized miner volunteers who provide the primary response to major incidents. The research framework examined the adequacy of training needs, technological capabilities and the implementation of interactive simulation. The research outcomes provide evidence-based information on the advantages and limitations of VR-based training for mining rescue brigades.