Consol polishes staff at training center

TRAINING and operating an efficient, productive business go hand-in-hand – a fact realized by longwall leader Consol Energy, which offers new and existing team members an opportunity to build and polish their skills at training centers in West Virginia, Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania.
Consol polishes staff at training center Consol polishes staff at training center Consol polishes staff at training center Consol polishes staff at training center Consol polishes staff at training center

Chaseling Mcgiffin's oil cooled conveyor brake for underground conveyors.

Donna Schmidt

Published in the May 2008 Coal USA Magazine

The Pennsylvania facility, established in 2006, is near its top-producing Enlow Fork and Bailey mines and the operations’ central plant, and employees are trained there by experienced and highly qualified trainers, according to Consol employee development manager Mark Hrutkay.

The company’s focus is to maintain a high level of industry expertise for all incoming employee students. For example, an electrician at the Bailey mine is a frequent instructor at the center, and it often joins forces with vendors such as Joy Mining and Continental Crushing and Conveyor for technical sessions.

The most significant and arterial focus, however, is Consol’s Absolute Zero approach, a safety-focused effort that has taken off in popularity across the coal industry as well as other industrial sectors since its introduction.

“All training has been reviewed to ensure all employees understand our goals and how to achieve them,” Hrutkay said.

“The goal is easy to explain – it is zero. Our job, along with 8000 other employees, is to help each other achieve that goal.”

For those on the frontlines underground who must maintain certifications for job functions underground, the center provides refresher courses as well as orientations for new employees and individuals promoted into new responsibilities. Some of these training and development areas are EMT certification, Part 48 training, accident prevention, a safety action program and maintenance development training.

Each year many new team members are educated on the company’s safety approach, mission and operating procedures.

“The recruiting of intelligent, motivated and high-quality professionals for our engineering and mine supervisory staff is a key concentration,” Hrutkay said. “In our professional programs, for example, many who work through the specialized program for industrial engineering professionals will ultimately be assigned to a specific operation for acclamation to the everyday protocol and culture.

“The new Absolute Zero approach has also had a significant and positive impact on recruiting new employees into Consol. It is easy to articulate and places Consol in a great position to attract top talent.”

Consol Leadership School

The operator recently kicked off another level to its training that it anticipates will solidify its staff retainment levels – the Consol Leadership School, for those wishing to expand their professional horizons as a Consol employee. The 12-module program is typically completed at a rate of two to three each year with each session conducted individually.

More than 100 employees are working through the school’s 12 cells of education: company history, safety, sales and marketing, leadership, communications, human resources, professional etiquette, accountability, strategic thinking, continuous improvement and excellence. Additional classes include mine economics and effective leadership. Once complete, the individual is prepared to the company’s standards for a management role at any one of its 17 mining complexes in six states.

Training and growth

Those looking for maintenance training through the Consol training center’s programs can take advantage of facilities near their operation and where many of the operator’s employees live. The company’s West Virginia centers include Monongah, West Virginia, and its newest facility in Moundsville; that location has recently been renovated and includes a shop, offices and large classrooms.

Its Utah workers utilize a third state-of-the-art center near the Emery mine in Price, where its staff works in tandem with the College of Eastern Utah to polish the skills of its western employees.

While it has looked at virtual training units for its facilities, Consol said it can actually do one better – it is looking at an underground location at its Robinson Run mine to establish a Zero Academy, the first known underground coal mine training facility at the portal near Mannington, West Virginia.

The facility is intended to be an extension of the company’s existing training program and will allow for a broader, more realistic training experience, according to officials, who said the new location could be ready for its first trainees in the near future.

A new home for Consol

Plans are continuing for a mid-August or early September grand opening of Consol Energy’s newest facility – a new corporate office being constructed at the Southpointe industrial complex about 30 minutes outside metropolitan Pittsburgh. At more than 400,000 square feet, the building will replace its current smaller home in the Bethel Park, south of the city.

About 650 corporate employees will make the move into the four-story structure designed in the shape of the company’s logo, a capital letter C.