Coal Age

APR 2018

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April 2018 33 training continued ers saw them as the RP's most important partner. Three managers had communica- tion personnel take the RP class; a fourth, from a multimine operator, reported see- ing them in his classes "more and more"; and a fifth emphasized, "we kind of slide some of that [RP content] into their annual refresher" and quarterly trainings. Managers devoted extra training time to actions that unfold early The regulation specifies what topics must be covered in the annual RP training, but neither the order nor the amount of time to be spent. We saw variations in both. For example, some sessions covered command center organization at the start of the les- son; others, later. Training sessions lasted from one or two hours at the low end to five and even eight hours at the high end. Those at the high end incorporated other sub- jects, like supervisor rights and responsibil- ities, first aid, and how to work with outside help such as police or air evacuation. All the safety managers we interviewed devote extra time to activities they think critical in the first stage of an emergency, as opposed to tasks their RP will delegate to others or will be handled by others in a later stage, such as gas sampling or establishing a fresh air base. Covering such topics in de- tail might suit mines where the RP might be alone for a longer period of time and unable to delegate, they felt, but did not apply to their situation and so robbed them of time to spend on more appropriate instruction. Procedures guide performance Many managers we interviewed discussed how their miners — not just the RPs — had performed well in events, whether real or staged, by using the mine's well-designed procedures. One recounted how well one of his step-up workers handled security during an event by grabbing and following a ready-made checklist. He explained, "In the ERP, in addition to that back page with the phone numbers, they made up charts — you can pull them out of the packet and go. These aren't required by the regulation, it's over and above." Another described how training with their procedures and forms for various roles enabled the mine to handle a fire very smoothly. Having a good procedure is a guard against error. One manager stressed the danger of asking miners to take unfamiliar actions or use unfamiliar equipment in an emergency, given the power of habit. An- other repeatedly told his RPs during the training to not attempt to perform certain actions from memory, but instead to use the predesigned procedures and forms, in order to prevent skipping important steps. Improvements in mine safety and technology have made it easier to estab- lish procedures to help miners handle a majority of likely emergency situations. But checklists and procedures can't cover highly unpredictable and difficult situa- tions, like explosions. These more chal- lenging situations call for RPs who can analyze and improvise based on their knowledge and experience. Can RP train- ing help develop such abilities? Tabletop exercises promote deeper thinking The RP pool can be divided into those who are trained simply to be aware of the sys- tem and help, those who are the back-up

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