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Developing Toolbox Training Materials For Mining - What Is Toolbox Training And Why Use It?; Strategies For Improving Miners’ Training
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    Toolbox training is often described as short, informal training conducted at a worksite by technically competent persons for the benefit of a work team. The key feature of toolbox training is the focus on a work team and what is important to that group in its workplace. Toolbox training conducted by peers can connect miners and establish the feeling that the hazard is a real threat to them. This feeling can bridge the gap between delivery of a safety message and behavioral changes that can prevent an accident. Toolbox training is a popular form of "maintenance" training that should not be used to teach a new skill. The 10- or 15-minute toolbox session is simply too short a time to teach or learn a new skill and test for skill development. However, the toolbox format is an excellent way to inform workers of changes in workplace rules, conditions, or hazards by bringing the discussion of change to the level of the work group and suggesting how a change will affect the way workers perform their jobs. Toolbox training should be structured to address a very specific hazard. That is, the hazard source should be identified and the effect of the hazard on the worker described. The temptation to discuss a safety subject in broad terms will result in an equally vague result. For instance, discussing "equipment guards" is inappropriate for a 15-minute training session. There simply is not enough time to cover all the hazards and their remedies. A more appropriate topic would be "placing guards on a conveyor return roller" or "hazards of cleaning a conveyor return roller." Each topic is concise enough to allow the trainer time to define a particular threat to the safety of miners and discuss ways to defend against that threat. The clearest way to a safe workplace is to identify hazards methodically and eliminate them. This cannot be done with sweeping, generalized training. Some best practices that will protect a worker from the hazard should be presented, and the hazard should be located at the specific worksite. Toolbox training is an opportunity for the work team to participate in learning and share experiences and knowledge, often through storytelling. Storytelling is an ancient form of passing along information in an entertaining way. It is entertaining because it draws the listener in with imagination and creativity. Stories told within work groups are a way for miners to exchange experiences in which they made mistakes that resulted in an accident or a near-miss and learned a valuable lesson. Thus, co-workers can learn from others without the pain or fear that accompanied the storyteller's learning path. To encourage these shared experiences, the people in the group must be comfortable with one another. Participation doesn't stop with listening to a near-miss story or informing the group of an unsafe work practice. Participation by sharing experiences, knowledge, and skills should lead toward action in changing the unsafe tool, practice, or machine (Wallerstein, 1992). This power to change is called empowerment. Empowered workers use toolbox training sessions to discuss a problem; direct their own knowledge, experience, and talents in the context of their work environment to solve the problem; and put into practice what they have learned by sharing (Baker, 1992). A worker is much more likely to implement changes they have contributed to creating than changes forced upon them. Toolbox training functions best when the group size is small (under 20) and composed of workers with similar job functions. While combining all workers on a shift or multiple shifts may be convenient, the level of participation will drop dramatically as group size increases and participants are less connected. Similarly, when the work group participants are from different job functions, keeping the materials relevant to the individual becomes more difficult. The role of management in the toolbox training system is to communicate among various groups so t

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