Aluminium producers Alcoa will use virtual reality to prepare staff for high-risk tasks at its alumina refineries in Western Australia.

The company has developed a training module, with a replica of one of Alcoa's refinery sub-stations, to simulate how to safely isolate electrical switches to avoid arc flash incidents.

“With safety being our top priority, this training allows our employees to experience high-risk hazards and the steps to mitigate them in a safe environment, so they can take what they have learned back to their workplace," Alcoa’s Pinjarra Refinery Manager, Mark Hodgson said.

Alcoa said VR training provided a learning retention rate of 75 per cent. Standard computer-based point-and-click training was 20 per cent, it added.

Personnel at Alcoa’s global refining operations will also get to benefit from this training starting from October.

Alcoa said it was working on using VR training for high-voltage isolation and other high-risk tasks.

Alcoa Australia represent one of the world’s largest integrated bauxite mining, alumina refining and aluminium smelting systems.