Safety’s not a game, or is it?

A games-based military training tool has formed the basis for a new mining training simulator.

The Mining Industry Skills Centre has unveiled a serious games-based simulation training tool to assist the industry in working towards the goal of zero harm.

The tool, entitled Project Canary, has been developed in collaboration with simulation experts, QinetiQ, and is a learning technology that enables users to apply the skills of risk assessment while encouraging behavioural change around safe working practices.

Manager of Simulation and eLearning at the Mining Industry Skills Centre, Deanna Hutchinson, believes the project will fuel training innovation in the mining industry.

“Training sessions must become more engaging and use appropriate learning methodologies if the desired outcomes are to translate to good work practice,” Hutchinson said.

“Mandatory training, in particular, has suffered in recent years owing to it being seen as obligatory rather than adding value to the workplace.

“At the Mining Industry Skills Centre, we believe that rather than reiterate the ‘rules’ around safe work practices, training needs to encourage learners to develop the behaviour that is necessary to independently apply safe practices at work. Rules by themselves do not keep people safe.”

The project comprises virtual worlds populated by miners, and by mining equipment, tools and objects.

In the training tool’s environment, individuals are supported by adult learning methodologies that promote self assessment and reflection on how safety knowledge is actually applied in their work practices.

“This is not another training tool that simply tests a trainee’s ability to regurgitate content. It is a learning environment that provides opportunities for individuals to test their knowledge and cognitive processes around hazard identification, assessment and control,” Hutchinson said.

The simulator currently includes scenarios for coal and metalliferous surface mining, as well as coal underground mining, with plans to develop metalliferous underground, quarrying and drilling environments, thereby making it an appropriate training tool for the whole of the resources industry.

The virtual worlds and the underlying technology have the capacity to develop unlimited learning scenarios for the resources industry.

Mining Industry Skills Centre CEO Derek Hunter said that the technology will make it possible for the Mining Industry Skills Centre to partner with individual resource companies to develop virtual worlds for their specific training requirements.

“We are able to produce an unrivalled training tool for the industry that meets their need,” he said.

“The training tool will shortly contain a number of scenarios for dealing with risk, and the library of scenarios will grow over time as the game develops.

Gary Eves, Practice Lead — Simulation and Training Systems, at QinetiQ, said that cognitive simulations like Project Canary deliver situational awareness training and mission rehearsal capability.

“Virtual Battle Space 2, the games engine behind Project Canary, is an integral part of the training undertaken by individuals in the armed forces,” he said.

“Australian soldiers, before going to Iraq, are able to effectively and efficiently identify the risks that confront them thanks in part to their training in the safe environment of Virtual Battle Space 2.

“Introducing the technology of Virtual Battle Space 2 to the resources industry will undoubtedly see a step in the right direction towards harm minimisation.”

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