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On-site training: Bandages only last so long

Updated: Mar 11

How are you approaching on-site training at your mine? If you rely on a training firm to come on-site, train and then leave every time you hire new equipment operators, is that cost-effective? Does it enhance the capacity and capability of your training department? Or is it just a bandage, a superficial, short-term solution to an immediate training need? To create lasting change and improvement, training needs to not only convey the knowledge the trainee needs to be productive and safe on the job. It also needs to address underlying issues like cultivating a stronger safety culture, designing training so it creates sustainable business improvements and making your training department more self-sufficient.

Are these practices in the best interests of your mine? Is your current approach to training in the best interests of your budget, your trainees and the mine’s operations? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Budget: Each time you need new hires trained, your vendor charges you for the trainer’s time and travel - and may even mark up out-of-pocket expenses. Over time, these costs can really add up. Perhaps during the mining boom, when production was the number-one priority, this practice may have been acceptable. But in today's post-boom environment, mines must scrutinize every expense. Clearly, it's in the best interests of your mine to empower your training department so they can deliver new training programs on their own, once the training vendor has left your mine site. If your vendor isn't offering train-the-trainer services, then chances are you're spending too much money.

  2. Trainees: When trainees are approved for independent operation, they aren’t immediately proficient. That comes with time and experience. The end result of your training process is a competent operator - someone who has met your minimum criteria for knowledge gained in the classroom and field training performance. Without the right tools and mindset, your new operators may remain at that minimum acceptable level. But if you put the proper foundation in place - with the right performance support tools - they will be more likely to improve in productivity and effectiveness over time.

  3. Mine operations: If your new trainees remain at or near minimal competency levels, it’s going to have a negative impact on your mine’s productivity - and potentially its safety. Remember, a new haul truck operator works in a production loop with other trucks and a shovel. The weakest link slows down everyone else and reduces the overall productivity of the mine.

A more effective approach

At VISTA Training, we have worked with mines to develop new curricula that integrate web-based training with OJT exercises, mine-specific procedures and even the simulators they own. This helps ensure that trainees can continue to progress from minimally competent to truly proficient operators.

Empowering your trainers Then we go one step further: We provide train-the-trainer sessions, which empower your training department to deliver the program on its own, long after we’re gone. They "own" it, which makes it more likely they’ll support and enhance it over time. We also provide:

  1. Trainer and trainee manuals

  2. Performance support materials

  3. Evaluation checksheets

  4. Structured field training exercises

  5. Mine procedures

  6. And more. Our goal is to help your mine maintain the performance and safety improvements that our training programs make possible. We have documented proof that this comprehensive, blended-learning based approach works: At one mine in northern Alberta, the productivity and safety improvements it saw from an initial implementation of our TruckLogic™ haul truck operator training curriculum was still delivering the same productivity increase benefit over a year later. Dispatchers told us they were thrilled with the competence of the new haul truck operators we trained, because they were surprisingly productive and had a clear understanding of how to work with others in their production loop.

A sustainable approach to training Building the capability of your training team is great, but what happens when your trainers leave, taking their knowledge with them? Your training "system" needs to be transferable to the new trainers. We can get you 80-90 percent to that goal in a very short time, using best practice-based training curricula and training materials. You won’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.

It’s time to demand more from your mine training In defense of 'band-aid" training by an outside training vendor, from your perspective as a manager in a mine, it IS quick and it IS easy. But we seriously question whether it creates lasting cultural change, or just a temporary blip that soon disappears as your new operators settle into a routine and try to fit in with their coworkers. If you’re looking for sustainable improvements in productivity and safety at your mine, contact us. We’d enjoy an opportunity to discuss your situation and potential training needs: 800-942-2886, 262-514-2886 or via e-mail at Interested in our training products? See: Silver Series Training Program

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