Online Courses for the MSHA Part 46 New Miner Training Program

online-courses-for-MSHA-46Many customers come to us wondering if and how they can use online courses for the MSHA Part 46 training programs. In this article, we’re going to address those questions and then take a closer look at how to do it with one of the Part 46 training programs–New Miner. The same ideas, though, apply to the other training programs, such as Newly Hired Experienced Miner, New Tasks(s), Annual Refresher, and Site-Specific Hazard.

Before we begin, here are a few related articles that may help set the scene in case you’re new to MSHA or Part 46:

Now let’s take a look at a few key questions that are covered in more detail in those articles above.



The first is, “Is it OK to use online courses for MSHA Part 46 compliance?” That question is easy to answer: yes. 46.4(d) makes that clear:

Training methods may consist of classroom instruction, instruction at the mine, interactive computer-based instruction or other innovative training methods, alternative training technologies, or any combination of training methods.

The second question, and a reasonable one, is “Does that mean I’d use ONLY online courses for MSHA Part 46 compliance?” And the answer to that is, no. You’d use the online courses as part of your training solution along with all the other types of training you are probably already providing–instructor-led, task-based, OJT/in-the-field, safety meetings, offsite training sessions, videos, and so on. This is called a blended learning solution–read more about blended learning here.

And a third question you might ask is “Would I use off-the-shelf online courses, have custom courses made for me, or make my own e-learning courses?” And the answer to this one is, you could do any or all of that. There are many nice off-the-shelf e-learning mining safety courses that you can use in a “plug-and-play” manner for Part 46. Primarily, these are going to cover introductory and/or general materials–things like explaining what highwalls and berms are or explaining the rights and legal responsibilities of miners. In addition, you could have an e-learning producer work with you to create custom e-learning courses for your site. Or, you could buy an inexpensive software program called an e-learning authoring tool and make your own (we’ve provided instructions about how to do that here). In this article, we’ll keep in mind that you have all three options for e-learning, but the examples we’ll preview and/or link to will be off-the-shelf mine safety courses.

Benefits of Online Courses for MSHA Part 46 Compliance

There are quite a few benefits of using online courses as part of your Part 46 training compliance effort. We’ve listed and briefly explained a few below:

  • Highly sophisticated visuals–many e-learning courses include impressive visuals (and visuals really help people learn). The graphics in these courses are things most of us can’t create on our own–3D animations, cut-away views, highlights and arrows perfectly timed with the audio, and more.
  • Built-in practice tests to let your employees check their understanding
  • Pass/fail tests at the end to determine if workers have a satisfactory understanding of the material
  • The ability to automatically create and store completion records online in a learning management system
  • The ability to deliver the courses to remote locations and/or to any worker 24/7
  • Significant cost savings over scheduling instructor-led training, paying travel and overtime expenses, etc.
  • More

With all these benefits, plus others we didn’t list, it’s worth adding online courses to the other types of training you’re already delivering for MSHA Part 46 compliance.

In the rest of the article, we’ll show you how to use e-learning courses in your New Miner Training Program. But first, feel free to watch this short video that explains how to use our MSHA LMS to administer those e-learning courses, all your other training materials, and create your required MSHA documentation too.

The Part 46 New Miner Training Program (46.5):

We said earlier we’d give some thoughts about using online training for the Part 46 New Miner training program. Let’s set the scene for that now.

MSHA Part 46 sets specific training requirements for different miners. One of those requirements is for newly hired miners who don’t have past experience as a miner. Here’s how the regulation puts it:

New Miner: A person who is beginning employment as a miner with a production-operator or independent contractor and who is not an experienced miner. [46.2(i)]

Typically, every newly hired miner must complete 24 hours of new miner training  before that miner can work without being observed by an experienced miner. In addition, of these 24 hours, four hours must be completed before the new miner can begin work at all. And, finally, there are some exceptions for miners who did work at a mine in the past, received new miner training there, but never reached “experienced miner” status. For more information on these exceptions, see 46.5(f) and 46.5(g).

Training Topics Required by the Part 46 New Miner Training Program

In addition to the training deadline requirements and exceptions we just listed, the regulation also includes a list of topics that you must train your new miners on. We’ve spelled those specific new miner training requirements out for you below in the table.

When New Miner Training Must Occur Subjects Required by New Miner Training Program
Before new miner begins work 1. An introduction to the work environment. Includes a visit and tour of the mine, or portions of the mine that are representative of the entire mine (walk-around training). The method of mining or operation utilized must be explained and observed.
Before new miner begins work 2. Instruction on the recognition and avoidance of electrical hazards and other hazards present at the mine. Instruction can include things such as traffic patterns and control, mobile equipment (e.g., haul trucks and front-end loaders), and loose or unstable ground conditions.
Before new miner begins work 3. A review of the emergency medical procedures, escape and emergency evacuation plans, in effect at the mine, and instruction on the fire-warning signals and firefighting procedures.
Before new miner begins work 4. Instruction on the health and safety aspects of the tasks to be assigned. Includes the safe work procedures of such tasks, the mandatory health and safety standards pertinent to such tasks, information about the physical and health hazards of chemicals in the miner’s work area, the protective measures a miner can take against these hazards, and the contents of the mine’s HazCom program.
Before new miner begins work 5. Instruction on the statutory rights of miners and their representatives under the Act. Instruction should be based on the Federal Mine Safety & Health Act of 1977.
Before new miner begins work 6. A review and description of the line of authority of supervisors and miners’ representatives and the responsibilities of such supervisors and miners’ representatives.
Before new miner begins work 7. An introduction to your rules and procedures for reporting hazards.
Before new miner begins work 8. Site-specific hazards. Note: Part 46 doesn’t specifically call out training on “site-specific hazards” in the same way that it does the other topics listed above (or below), but instead notes that the training topics listed above “must also address site-specific hazards.” As a result, we’ve chosen to call them out specifically so it’s less likely you’ll miss this.
No later than 60 calendar days after a new miner begins work at the mine 9. Instruction and demonstration on the use, care, and maintenance of self-rescue and respiratory devices, if used at the mine.
No later than 60 calendar days after a new miner begins work at the mine 10. A review of first aid methods.
No later than 90 calendar days after a new miner begins work at the mine 11. The balance, if any, of the 24 hours of training on any other subjects that promote occupational health and safety for miners at the mine.

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Examples of Online Courses for the Part 46 New Miner Training Program

Now that we’ve set the groundwork on Part 46 and the New Miner training program, let’s consider how online courses can help you provide SOME of that New Miner training.

Remember, you’ll use the online courses as part of a “blended learning solution” that takes advantage of many different types of training–instructor-led, written materials, on-the-job (OJT) training, task-based training, and more.

The New Miner “Introduction to the Mine Environment” Training Requirement

Below is a sample of an e-learning course about the Physical Characteristics of Mine Sites. This course can be used to help satisfy the 46.5(b)(2) training requirement to provide “an introduction to the mine environment…[during which] the method of mining or operation utilized must be explained or observed.

The e-learning course would do a great job of “setting the scene” for your newly hired miners. You can imagine how the visuals and self-paced learning style would be helpful to a brand new hire who’s never worked at a mine before.  By the time they’re done with the course, they’ll have a good idea of what things like highwalls and berms are and will be at least familiar with a lot of the terms you use every day but that are totally new to them.

Then after the course, you can provide additional training. That would probably start with a mine-tour walk around. After that, you can use additional instructor-led training time to handle more advanced questions, focus on Q&A, address site-specific issues, and more. And your new hires will get even more information over time while working under the supervision of experienced miners in the field.

The New Miner “Self-Rescue and Respiratory Devices” Training Requirement

Now, let’s consider, consider a second example. How about the requirement in 46.5(c)(1) to provide “Instruction and demonstration on the use, care, and maintenance of self-rescue and respiratory devices, if used at the mine.

You could begin by having your miners review this Respirators e-learning course. Again, that will get them a base-level knowledge of terms and ideas.  Then you can follow up with some instructor-led and hands-on training with your own respirators and the places they should be used.

 

MORE Online Courses for the Part 46 New Miner Training Program

Now that you’ve seen how TWO online courses can you help provide mine safety training for that one topic required for the Part 46 New Miner Training Program, take a look at the table below to see how you could include up to 26 different mining-specific e-learning courses (or more) as part of your MSHA Part 46 training plan.

An introduction to the work environment

Instruction on the recognition and avoidance of electrical hazards and other hazards present at the mine

A review of the emergency medical procedures, escape and emergency evacuation plans, in effect at the mine, and instruction on the fire-warning signals and firefighting procedures

Instruction on the health and safety aspects of the tasks to be assigned

Instruction on the statutory rights of miners and their representatives under the Act

A review and description of the line of authority of supervisors and miners’ representatives and the responsibilities of such supervisors and miners’ representatives

An introduction to your rules and procedures for reporting hazards

Site-specific hazards

You’re on your own here, or contact us for custom e-learning materials to match your site-specific needs 🙂

Instruction and demonstration on the use, care, and maintenance of self-rescue and respiratory devices, if used at the mine

A review of first aid methods

The balance, if any, of the 24 hours of training on any other subjects that promote occupational health and safety for miners at the mine

Again, you’re largely on your own here. Of course, you COULD provide additional safety e-learning courses from our general Health and Safety e-learning library.

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Conclusion: Online Courses for the Part 46 New Miner Training Program

So there you have it.

Hopefully we’ve addressed some of the questions you might have had about online courses and MSHA Part 46 compliance.

In particular, we hope we’ve given you some useful tips about how online courses can be used in a blended learning solution not only to help you satisfy the MSHA training requirements but also to provide more effective training to your workers, partly by using the benefits of e-learning when it’s most likely to help your workers and partly by letting you save your own time for when instructor-led and/or hands-on training is most valuable in the training process.

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Online MSHA Compliance Guide

Download our free guide to learn how online tools can help you create safer work conditions at a mine site, stay compliant with MSHA Part 46 regulations, and manage your training program more efficiently.

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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. Jeff has worked in education/training for more than twenty years and in safety training for more than ten. You can follow Jeff at LinkedIn as well.

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