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Tech-driven training creates safer mines

“The most important thing to come out of a mine is the miner.”

These immortal words are believed to have come from 19th century French sociologist and mining inspector general, Frédéric Le Play, and they are as truthful today as they ever were. 

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN MINING REVIEW AFRICA ISSUE 2, 2021
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The challenges for any mining operation are countless and research shows that the vast majority of incidents can be linked back to human error. As such, the need for in-depth, hands-on and continuous health and safety learning for all levels of mining work grows more urgent by the day.

AUTHOR: Stuart Woolmington, CEO of WinWin International

Health and safety issues within mining are often exacerbated by the inability to bring real-time information to a risk environment. Historically, the enormous amount of information to be taught and serious lack of learning technology has meant that learning tends to take place in old-style training rooms, often with generic content and outdated systems. It is little wonder that the industry’s health and safety statistics are cause for concern.  

Making learning real

Fortunately, health and safety in mining is one of the many areas being positively impacted by innovation within the world of learning and development technology. One of the most exciting ways in which such advancements have broken new ground is to bring education to miners in simulated environments which feel true to reality.

In other words, providing hands-on training that illustrates how to decrease or remove risk and injury in close to real-life situations, brought about by clever technology. For the longest time, this type of non-traditional learning was considered beyond imagination and surely impossible. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. 

Revolutionising the industry

For several years, there has been a solid focus on changing the ways in which the mining industry learns. Below are three ways in which innovation and technology are making a real difference, particularly in the critical area of health and safety:

  1. Immersive learning: Traditional training rooms have been given new purposes, such as that of hosting VR and AR learning experiences. These solutions offer real-time health and safety training and examples, as though the miners are right where the action is. These types of technology are easy to use, cost-effective and no longer limited by the need for connectivity to be innovative.
  1. New content and 4IR learning technology: Imagine trying to remember all of the health and safety information you have learnt throughout your career, word for word. Could you imagine all of this information being easily available to you, in fresh, well-curated and easily digestible bites of content, wherever you are, whenever you need it? That’s the power of learning technology.
    Whether it’s information on safety processes or detailed compliance tasks, it’s possible to have all of this content on hand wherever the learner is, empowering them at every step. Through the use of 4IR learning technology, miners are reskilled to better understand and support health and safety strategies and risks on miners and mines are dramatically reduced. This technology also improves compliance in ways that allow miners to sustainably build safer mining environments in some of the most remote locations in the world. 
  1. Integration of key stakeholders: As training and compliance move into the digital age, health and safety information is easily available to all stakeholders within the mining supply chain. Contractors, suppliers, communities, unions and SMMEs are all able to be upskilled and integrated into the exciting and innovative journey of learning technology. 

About the author:

Stuart Woolmington is the CEO and founding member of WinWin International. He has more than 30 years’ experience in learning and development and strategic communications.

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