What is required to prepare workers so they can do their jobs safely?
Mining operations are required to have safe systems of work so that workers can carry out their work safely. The provision of information, instruction, training and supervision is an essential component of any risk management strategy.
Although most mines have an established induction and training program, some do not satisfy the intent of the legislation. A robust training and assessment program is fundamental to the safety of not only those conducting tasks, but also other workers and people who may be affected by their work.
What is the role of training in developing competency?
People must be competent in the tasks they are assigned and have the demonstrated knowledge and skills necessary to perform the task safely. Competency is gained through a combination of training and experience.
A competent person is defined as a person who is appointed or designated by the employer to perform specified duties based on knowledge, training and experience.
Refer to s. 4 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 for the definition of competent person.
Where practicable, training should be conducted in alignment with the relevant national units of competency. This will ensure the minimum industry standard has been met for the task or operation of equipment.
Some training approaches are described below.
- Suitable for introducing material containing detailed theoretical or conceptual information. This can assist with understanding the knowledge component needed to achieve competency.
- Assists in comprehending the knowledge component needed to achieve competency.
- An essential part of most training programs that provides a realistic work environment to develop the skills component needed to achieve competency.
- Provides the rehearsal of practical skills under controlled conditions. This type of training can assist in developing knowledge of the hazards and risks associated with tasks, or under emergency situations.
Open learning techniques
- Self-teaching packages, computer-based packages and interactive videos, as well as more conventional methods to help develop the knowledge component needed to achieve competency. [see note below]
Toolbox talks and other formal information sessions
- These provide a communication forum between supervisors and workers to reinforce safe work practices, help identify hazards and implement control measures, support safety culture change and assist with the learning process.
While the open learning method has become popular in industry, it is essential that the open learning techniques chosen are fit-for-purpose. They should not compromise the desired outcomes, nor be applied at the expense of adequate training.
What is involved in being a trainer or assessor?
Appointing trainers and assessors
Workers need to be competent to perform the tasks they are assigned, and this includes trainers and assessors. A qualification such as the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment demonstrates a competency in training and assessment. The relevant units in this qualification could be viewed as the required minimum to perform as a trainer or assessor.
It is good practice for mine managers to appoint trainers and assessors or training coordinators to help them perform their training and assessment duties. Such appointments should be described in the mine record book.
Recommended qualifications for trainers
Trainers should hold both the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment or equivalent units of competency, and the unit of competency that they are training the worker in. For example, for a new worker needing to learn how to conduct wheel loader operations, the trainer should hold this unit of competency or a site assessment mapped to this standard.
Recommended qualifications for assessors
Assessors should hold both the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, or equivalent units of competency, and the unit of competency they are assessing the worker in. If the assessor does not hold the unit of competency or a site assessment mapped to the standard that is to be assessed, then a content expert (a competent person in the unit) may be used.
Where content experts are used, the assessor’s role is to ensure the assessment is conducted in accordance with the site’s training management system and the assessment process is conducted correctly. The content expert will make the judgement on competence and, together with the competent assessor, should sign off on the assessment.
Contribution of workplace mentors
Mentors are often used in the resource sector to help others learn and become more effective in their roles. A mentor is usually a worker who has already developed the skills, knowledge and experience in a certain area, task or equipment and is available to advise less experienced workers.
Mentors are normally assigned to someone by their supervisor. However, it is important that the person chosen wants to be a mentor. Some simple questions that a supervisor should ask prior to selecting a mentor are:
- For which areas, tasks or equipment would you be confident providing mentoring?
- Are you comfortable sharing your knowledge and experiences with another person?
- Are you comfortable asking and being asked challenging questions?
- Are you prepared to assist in the success and growth of other workers?
- Are there any areas, tasks or equipment you do not want to mentor in?
Mentors are used to enhance a worker’s training, and may be part of the overall training program or stand alone to enhance the skills and knowledge of workers who have already been deemed as competent. The mentor should convey information, give advice and provide examples.
A mentor is not necessarily a competent trainer. A competent trainer should oversee the training of the worker and assist the mentor in imparting knowledge in the required areas.
What information needs to be provided?
People undertaking work must have the information necessary to complete their tasks safely. Information may include:
- manuals provided by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
- operational policies, procedures and plans
- applicable legislation, Australian and industry standards, and other guidance material
- hazard, risk assessment and control measure information
- location of emergency equipment and services.
What instruction needs to be provided?
People undertaking work need to be instructed on the specific tasks to be undertaken, including hazards and risks, the controls to be applied, and the job steps necessary to complete tasks safely.
Instructional tools such as job safety analyses (JSAs), and safe work instructions or procedures may be used to document the process, but should be reviewed and amended prior to commencing tasks and if equipment or conditions change.
Instructions should be approved by the relevant supervisor or manager.
Please refer to related information below:
The RII - Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package specifies the minimum skills and knowledge required to perform effectively in the resources sector.
SkillsDMC has developed several resources to help industry implement the RII Training Package.