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How mines are using eLearning to boost safety

Home Business Management Disaster Management How mines are using eLearning to boost safety

MANAGING risk isn’t easy, particularly in the mining industry, which has a reputation for being a risky business.

That’s according to Muhammad Ali, Managing Director of WWISE, an International Standards Organization (ISO) training, consulting and implementation specialist, who said meeting safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) standards involves the laborious documentation of an entire safety management system.

This includes identifying what the hazards are to workers, assessing their consequences and instituting mechanisms to control those risks.

“In our experience of working with some of Africa’s biggest mining companies, the reccurring challenge for them in meeting SHEQ standards is the massive administrative task it involves, aside from the training and monitoring,” said Ali.

“Many enterprises only implement the SHE management system and train their supervisors, but this still leaves the mining company highly vulnerable. If only partial training is done, supervisors and workers themselves still lack the essential knowledge needed to ensure optimal health and safety, environmental management, or quality in the work place.”

Now, a growing confidence in digitisation is seeing an increasing number of mining companies use e-training and e-monitoring to drive greater efficiencies in their business and meeting tough SHEQ requirements.

Mike Hanly, Managing Director of New Leaf Technologies, a Johannesburg-headquartered learning software and solutions company that specialises in the mining sector, said COVID-19 had highlighted how digitisation can ensure business continuity across many industries, including mining.

“We’re seeing a significant upswing, in mining companies and from workers too, on how they can better their SHEQ compliance and knowledge using eLearning methods.”

Hanly said digitised eLearning courseware is often far more engaging and memorable because it is multimedia in nature, combining words and graphics with 3-D modelling and animation, virtual reality and augmented reality material.

Because of its instructional design nature, it’s able to hold trainees’ attention while explaining sometimes difficult concepts. And, notes Hanly, “It’s convenient as it allows employees to train largely in their own time, at their own pace, and on a device they prefer to use,” Hanly said.

Management systems, including training and monitoring, are being integrated online, said Ali. Systems for OHSAS 18001 (health and safety management), ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management) are now being blended together through one seamless online utility that can be accessed anywhere, any time.

A key feature is the eLearning/training component of these management systems, which Hanly believes offers several benefits. Because of the volatile nature of the industry in general, course content can be continually updated quickly and effortlessly.

There’s a level of consistency and uniformity in what the courseware is and how it’s taught, regardless of where a mining operations may be, which allows for a greater level of quality. And monitoring is easier, enabling mining companies to generate quick and insightful reports which can identify successes and what needs to be capitalised on, as well as where the gaps are and how they should be addressed.

Online learning also does away with the cost of hiring, flying in or accommodating classroom training facilitators, which saves costs for the employer.

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