Ashley Gillund from Northland’s Workforce Development Solutions, the business and industry outreach division formerly known as the Center for Outreach & Innovation (COI), was in West Virginia the week of October 14th. Ashley is a Customized Training Representative at the Thief River Falls campus. She coordinates various certification training and is an instructor for safety and/or health subjects as it relates to OSHA or MSHA.
The purpose of the trip was to attend the National Training Resources Applied to Mining (TRAM) conference that is held annually and hosted by the Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Ashley presented twice at the conference. Her audience consisted of representatives from NIOSH, MSHA, state-level Department of Labor constituents, other state-grantees across the country like Northland, and many other safety professionals in the industry within public and private sectors.
Have you ever sat through a training session and almost fell asleep or found yourself feeling bored because the instructor is dry? Often, the students lose interest and the session is ineffective. Ashley’s presentations at the conference focused on delivery concepts such as hands-on activities that keep her adult students engaged throughout a day-long mandatory safety class. By incorporating hands-on or group activities, mandatory training sessions can be highly impactful and educational for adult learners.
After all this, you might ask yourself, what or who is MSHA? MSHA is like OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration which is what the majority of most businesses/industries fall under for workplace safety and compliance. Companies that fall under MSHA in Minnesota are mining several different types of commodities. In the northwest region of the state, almost all mine operators are sand and gravel. When you travel east near Hibbing, that area has pockets of sand and gravel and is rich in iron ore and taconite. The southern part of the state has sand and gravel, limestone, silica sand, clay, and granite quarries. In the MSHA world, the employers/businesses are called “mine operators” and employees are referred to as “miners”. These entities fall solely under MSHA jurisdiction – regulating the safety and health of miners; OSHA has no authority.
The state of Minnesota is a grant recipient and receives federal funds with the sole purpose of providing safety training to miners. Northland is one of three colleges in the state who receives funding and provides this specialized annual compliance training and consultation to miners. The next time you drive by a gravel pit in Minnesota, you’ll know that it is highly likely that everyone who works there has received their annual safety training from either Northland, Hibbing Community College, or South Central College. In 2019, Northland provided training to more than 800 miners.