Improving Conveyor Belt Safety Training Through the Use of Virtual Reality

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Virginia Tech


Working around conveyor belts is the cause of numerous accidents each year that are costly to the mining industry. Current safety training practices generally include the use of slide show presentations, lectures, videos, and paper material before sending each worker onto site with an experienced person for on-the-job task training. These training methods are passive in nature and do not allow for an actual realization of consequences resulting from ignoring safety practices during interaction between the employee and the environment. It is with this in mind that virtual reality (VR) is being proposed as an added effective method of safety training.

In order to prove this hypothesis, a working VR prototype application of a mining environment has been developed. The application is designed in two modules. The first consists of an instructional based module, where the user is given all relevant information based on background research dealing with safety issues, hazard awareness, conveyor maintenance, and conveyor components and assemblies. The second module is a task-based training session that then tracks the user's performance as they complete assigned tasks.

An evaluation scheme was performed on the prototype to determine the usability and usefulness and identify areas in need of improvement. First, industry professionals were presented the application in an informal setting where the types of information and overall concept were examined and perceived usefulness was discussed. Secondly, users, both novice and industry professionals, were asked to go through the prototype training application and rate their agreement with statements based on the user interface and usability of the application. Finally, subjective interviews were performed to record perceived benefits of the virtual reality application over typical training material. This final stage consists of using both industry professionals and novice experience individuals and documenting their perceptions of benefits and challenges of using both typical methods of training and the designed prototype.

This document consists of an explanation of the research steps and papers that are published (or in press) detailing certain areas of the research, compiled findings, conclusions, and future research suggestions.



Conveyor Belts, Evaluation, Safety Training, Virtual Reality