Training focus pays dividends

7 July 2017

New Acland Mine’s relentless focus on training is paying dividends with the mine site’s efforts being recognised by the State Government.

New Acland will be well represented when the Darling Downs South West regional finals of the State Training Awards are held at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba next month.

The Queensland Training Awards have celebrated the state's top training achievers for the past 55 years.

Across 14 categories, the awards recognise individuals and organisations that strive for and have achieved success, best practice and innovation in vocational education and training (VET).

All aspects of New Acland’s training regime will be in the spotlight with finalists in three categories – Large Employer of the Year, Vocational Student of the Year and VET Trainer of the Year.

Vocational Student of the Year finalist, Dallas Hinrichsen has been with New Acland for over a decade and is currently a mobile plant operator.

Dallas was offered the opportunity to do a Certificate III in Mine Emergency Response and Rescue and is now a valued member of the mine’s Emergency Response Team (ERT).

“It’s probably the best thing I have ever done,” Dallas said.

For Dallas, being a part of the ERT at New Acland was a natural fit.

“I have always been very safety conscious and really enjoy helping people.”

“To be part of a team whose role it is to make sure everyone gets home safely to their families after their shift is a fantastic feeling.”

“It has also made me better at what I do in my main job as a mobile plant operator.”

Dallas’ training has also brought an unexpected but extremely valuable benefit to his local community.

After finishing a shift last year, Dallas came across a serious accident between a car and a bus just outside his home town of Toowoomba.

He was the first person at the scene and without hesitation went to work assessing the accident victims.

He stayed on site to help emergency workers extract victims from the wrecked vehicles and assisted in providing first aid.

Dallas’ trainer at New Acland, Ray Wallbank from Emergency Risk Management Queensland, is also a finalist in the VET Trainer of the Year category.

Ray has a passion for training and is committed to helping others achieve goals they never thought possible.

He has been working with employees at New Acland Mine for the past 18 months, providing a Certificate III in Mines Emergency Response and Rescue.

Ray said first aid training can be confronting and students often have reservations on how they would cope in an emergency situation.

“I tell them that in an emergency any effort is better than no effort,” Ray said.

“A great deal of any first aid and rescue training is building confidence and using a student’s personal experience to make the training relevant.”

With over 23 years of service with the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, Ray utilises the many skills he learned on the job and works to include his students’ life experience in their training.

“People find it much easier to learn if they can relate the subject back to their own life experiences.”

Ray delivers training on site at New Acland, using real life scenarios from around the mine and utilising equipment the employees use every day in their work.

New Acland is also well deserving of its place in the Large Employer of the year category.

With almost 300 full time employees and 500 plus contractors working at New Acland around the clock, keeping the workforce safe is the mine’s main focus.

Alongside productivity performance, the company's ‘Life Rules’ safety program ensures that safety is a priority and always front of mind.

New Acland training and emergency response co-ordinator, Grant McDonald, said the aim is for employees to always return to their loved ones at the end of each shift, unharmed.

“Our people are our greatest asset,” Grant said. “Because on a day-to-day basis it is our people who influence our success.

“As a direct result of the extensive training offered to all employees, the total reportable injury frequency rate is at an all-time mine low at New Acland and well below industry standards.

“Health and safety is and will remain paramount to everything we do.”

The Darling Downs South West regional finals will be held at the Wellcamp Airport on July 29th with winners going on to the State finals later in the year.