The Northern Centre for Advanced
Technology (NORCAT) is sharing its expertise in health and safety
training with Base Titanium Limited for a new open pit titanium mine
under construction in Kenya.
The mine’s Kenyan workforce will be
trained to Canadian standards for health and safety.
NORCAT CEO Don Duval said the
partnership was formed after they met at the Prospectors and
Developers Association of Canada conference earlier this year.
“We really wanted to demonstrate to
the international markets what we do so well. There was some very
strong interest from Mexico and South America, as well as from some
properties in Africa. Base Titanium, recognizing our history and
capabilities, saw a good fit.”
Duval describes the new partnership as
“unbelievably exciting,” not only for NORCAT, but also for
Sudbury and Canada. “We are eminent in the field of mining and now
is the time to export this expertise,” he said.
Duval realizes that health and safety
training is not a one size fits all operation. “Every site, every
country, every region of the world, especially outside of Canada, has
different nuances that we’re really learning to understand,” he
said. “Health and safety is about ensuring productivity while
protecting the worker.”
The training is being developed by a
host of professionals and experts in the fields of mining health and
safety, along with script writers and graphic designers, to deliver a
unique e-learning platform. The training is also designed to reflect
the cultural uniqueness of the region the mine is operating in, as
well as deliver a level of technology appropriate to the area.
Training materials are being delivered
in English and translated into Swahili.
“We see more and more these days that
there’s a cultural component to the health and safety training,”
said Jason Bubba, director of training and development at NORCAT.
“Whether we are in northern parts of Canada or in Africa, mining
companies are becoming more aware of cultural sensitivities, and
that’s not only for the workers, but also contractors who might not
be from the area. Mining companies realize that somebody from outside
that geographical area needs to be sensitive to those who live in and
around the area.”
The fully narrated orientation package
is downloaded onsite and takes about one hour. Some locations are
more capable of handling the technology, whereas remote sites need
some tweaking for the programs to run smoothly, and this is all taken
into consideration when designing the training.
“The program includes video
segments, still photography, music and all sorts of information to
make it lively and to keep the person engaged in the program,” said
Curriculum writers have had to create
material that can be used with workers who might have a grade eight
reading level, as well as for scientists and engineers.
The training is completed in an
exam-like environment where workers are given review questions
throughout the process.
Participants are tested at the end and
the records are stored in a central database in Sudbury. The test can
be done repeatedly to ensure workers understand the information
needed to work safely.
Workers as well as contractors can
easily access the training through the Internet to ensure everyone
involved has a minimum level of safety training. With the information
being stored in a central database, the records can be securely
accessed as workers come on and off a job site - not much different
than what NORCAT provides Vale and Xstrata.
A significant benefit of working with
NORCAT is that the training is not a one-time product. It’s a
long-term partnership that allows NORCAT to create a more nuanced
health and safety curriculum.
“Health and safety is a core
strategic imperative for all the mining companies globally.
Therefore, they prefer partnerships that listen and adjust the
training as needed,” said Duval.
Additional training modules will
include fall protection and lock-out training.
Bubba describes NORCAT as a health and
safety solutions partner.
“We like to build a partnership with
the companies so that we grow with them.”
As the needs of the mining company
changes, additional training that reflects the site-specific nature
of their operations can be developed.