More guidelines in evolving coal industry: Trainer

SINCE his first taste of the underground coal industry at the age of 15, Peter Sharp has seen staff training evolve from a relaxed
More guidelines in evolving coal industry: Trainer More guidelines in evolving coal industry: Trainer More guidelines in evolving coal industry: Trainer More guidelines in evolving coal industry: Trainer More guidelines in evolving coal industry: Trainer

Courtesy Sharp Training.

Staff Reporter

Sharp, who established his own training organisation, Sharp Training, in 2001 said the modern coal industry is far more dynamic, with many workers entering the workforce from a multitude of non-mining related backgrounds.

That combined with an increase in contract workers coming into minesites has seen training organisations inundated with demand for their highly specialised training courses in a bid to have workers reach legislative and safety levels compulsory at sites.

"We've filled our weekly two-day introductory course every week for the past two to three years," Sharp said.

"We just can't keep up with demand and it's across all levels whether we've got new guys that have never worked on a mine or guys that need a refresher, right the way up to supervisors training for guys that are moving between jobs or companies.

"Our trainers have to keep abreast of what each minesite requires and all the changes in legislation across each state to keep the course fresh and relevant."

When asked about the differences between the training course undertaken by employees today and the training he, as an underground coal apprentice, was put through upon entry to the workforce, Sharp said the vast improvements show how far the industry has come.

"When I first came on the scene it was more of a buddy-up with an experienced worker and learn that way process, but now it's an intensive standard course that everyone's put through and the training is a lot more diverse and involved," Sharp said.

Hosting his courses at training centres in Moranbah and Mackay or onsite, Sharp said that while his company does not use simulators for any of its training he thinks it is the way training will be undertaken in the future.

"We're seeing a lot of demand for hands-on training and places like the Mining Industry Skills Centre have had a lot of success with their simulated training modules, so I think that's where the training industry is heading," Sharp said.

For now, however, his focus is on working with coal companies to deliver the training courses to employees before being involved in a training project that will be launched into China next year.

Coalface Training is an initiative of Sharp and other Australian trainers who recognised the need for better training services and education for China's dangerous coal industry and hope to create a series of courses for the Chinese market.

He said the group is currently working on bridging the communication gap between the Australian and Chinese industries so that their course can be taught to Chinese trainers and hopefully play a role in reducing China's coal mining fatality rate in the future.