Expectations Vs. Experience: Training Lessons Based Upon Miners' Difficulties When Using Emergency Breathing Apparatus
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Expectations Vs. Experience: Training Lessons Based Upon Miners' Difficulties When Using Emergency Breathing Apparatus

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    Interviews of 48 miners who escaped underground coal mine fires revealed that none of them had ever, before that incident, worn their self-contained self-rescuer (SCSR) either in training or in a real emergency. Consequently, they were ill-prepared to use this emergency breathing apparatus. One persistent problem stemmed from the fact that miners had no notion of breathing resistance, nor of the fact that it would get more difficult to breathe the longer they wore their device. As a result, many of those who were interviewed had simply removed their mouthpieces and breathed ambient air. This is obviously behavior that should be trained out of the workforce. Unfortunately, because of high costs and difficult logistics, miner training is unlikely to ever include donning and wearing an apparatus on a regular basis. In order to give workers a better idea of what to expect from their devices, therefore, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health researchers developed a tabletop (paper and pencil) simulation based upon actual predicaments evacuees had reported encountering. The simulation is designed to emphasize important points related to donning and wearing a self-contained self-rescuer in a mine fire escape, and, by doing so, to bring miners' expectations more in line with what their actual experiences would be. The simulation was field tested in six training classes at three different mining operations. In all, 99 individuals were involved in completing the exercise and rating its properties. In their ratings 88% of the respondents indicated they thought the scenario could definitely happen in real life, and over 80% agreed they had learned something new. From the field test data it was concluded that the simulation had authenticity and potential value as a teaching tool. The simulation was therefore used in a pre-test/post-test control group experiment to determine whether it led to improvements in miners' scores on a true-false test of their SCSR's functional capabilities and proper usage. Eighty-three miners were included in this part of the study. As expected, miners who had participated in the training exercise scored significantly higher on their post-test than miners who had not.
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