Being prepared for potential accidents is a vital skill for miners when working at heights, underground or with chemicals and explosives. Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College is training workers to deal with a range of common mine accidents and dangers.
Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College trains Australian workers to safely and competently respond to mine fires, hazardous material incidents, vertical rescues, confined space rescues and even road crash incidents.
The organisation offers a nationally accredited Emergency Response & Rescue Training (up to and including the Certificate III Emergency Response and Rescue qualification) to prepare them for these events.
Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College tailors the learnings to their specific commodities, mine types and even a worker’s own mine site, offering a personalised learning experience for every situation.
Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College prepares workers in mining and the oil and gas industry to deal with fires, respond safely to hazardous materials incidents, perform confined space rescue, and work and rescue from heights.
Safe to Work discusses the learnings on offer under the Certificate III qualification with Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College, college manager Jason Humphries.
“We prepare emergency responders to deal with any scenario possible when an incident occurs at their site,” Humphries says.
“The Certificate III provides students with the knowledge and skills to deal with an incident to the best of their ability, with qualifications specific to both underground and surface mining operations.
“We offer different training in respect to the various breathing apparatuses each mining operation uses and the incidents that are more likely to occur.”
For example, underground mining emergency response teams require more knowledge of using long duration breathing apparatuses in poor ventilation, while surface coal miners require familiarity with fires more than miners of other commodities.
To provide a more life-like experience, the Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College team incorporates live fire gas props and virtual reality systems into its training.
Humphries says realistic scenarios are incorporated into the training to provide students with knowledge and experience in reacting to modern-day incidents.
“We use high flowing gas for live fire training and specialised hazmat suits and gas detection training simulators,” Humphries says.
“Instead of using a normal gas detector, we use a training simulator detector that tells the students at which level they should evacuate, for example.”
As well as props, Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College also uses technology like virtual reality to create realistic training for dangerous incidents in a safe environment.
“Obviously in some other scenarios we can’t capture a real-life event without putting students in danger, so for these situations we use virtual reality,” Humphries says.
“This ensures the students are exposed to the different scenarios they may come across in their line of work.”
At its Sunshine Coast campus, Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College has specially built shipping containers on site with a 10-metre tower for vertical rescue training and confined spaces tunnels for confined space rescue practice.
The Certificate III course components are run both at Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College’s campus and on actual mine sites, allowing workers to become familiar with the risks and facilities within their own workplace.
With the mining industry constantly developing and introducing new technology, Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College specialises in providing further training after completing the Certificate III in Emergency Response & Rescue, so that emergency response officers continue upskilling.
“Here in the Australian region we recommend mine emergency response officers continue to improve their skills and knowledge beyond their Certificate III qualification,” Humphries says.
“Emergency response officers can attend our continuing professional development classes on a fortnightly or monthly basis and have this signed off in a logbook.
“Students wishing to improve their knowledge for safety on their own site can instigate somebody from the Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College team to go out to site and oversee this professional development training for them.”
Knowing how to react in an emergency is essential for mine workers, particularly following the introduction of new industrial manslaughter laws across Queensland, putting the onus on employers to ensure teams are equipped with the knowledge to keep themselves and their colleagues safe.
Under these laws, employers risk fines exceeding $10 million or a jail sentence of up to 20 years if found to be negligent in an accident that causes the death or injury of a worker, which could include failing to provide correct training.
“A lack of training, knowledge or skills in emergency response can be potentially life threatening or deadly,” Humphries says.
“If workers do not understand the scenario or incident they find themselves in, whether it be an explosion or a fall or a fire, and they don’t have the correct training or competency, they could walk into a situation where they could get themselves or others injured or even killed.”
By providing quality, nationally accredited training, Australasia Fire & Emergency Response College helps to build safer mine sites, create useful team building exercises and educate workers on how to deal with the unexpected on site to ultimately save lives.
“Even (with) the best health and safety procedures and policies in place, unfortunately, incidents still do happen on mine sites,” Humphries says.
“That’s why mine workers need correct and advanced training tailored specifically to their site, so they are prepared to deal with all types of situations they are likely to encounter on the job.”
This article will appear in the September-October issue of Safe to Work.