EPC-UK new starters seeking second career, shotfirer success

Jun 5, 2024

Onsite catches up with the EPC-UK new starters seeking second career, shotfirer success:

Over the course of a year, Onsite plans to report on the progress of two new shotfirer trainee starters, whom in January 2024 began working in our commercial quarrying environment; Josh McNeill, a former Non-commissioned Officer in the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, and Sean Hughes, who’d previously worked in construction.  Their appointments and training form part of our ‘EPC way’ training route, designed to support those with transferable skills as they transition to a new career through an accelerated Shotfirer learning programme.

Onsite has been following their progress as they work to complete modules including:

  • Site inductions, authorisations and appointments
  • Planning and preparing the site and blast, pre drill surveying
  • EPC-UK’s technology focussed ‘Gold Standard’ blast specification
  • Explosives and accessories
  • Receipt and transport of explosives
  • Charging the blast holes and initiation systems
  • Firing the shot and post blast inspections
  • Prevention of misfires and fly rock

Here’s the latest on how they’re getting on and what new skills they’ve learned:


“Almost six months into training and everything is going well! I’m currently revising the modules we’ve covered so far and am giving extra consideration to what we’ve learned about initiation systems, as this will be crucial to me doing well in the shotfiring exam.

“I’ve recently attended the EPC-UK Operations Roadshow. This is an internal event that takes place in different operating areas of the country and is designed to bring all the remote teams up to date with developments, the latest tech, company results and targets. It was a great opportunity for me to meet the other midland team employees who work further afield and also enabled me to find out more useful information about EPC-UK’s organisational performance and positive future direction. 

“The biggest news for now is that I’m enrolled on my shotfiring course, week commencing 8th July, and will take my exam at the end of that week. Once I’ve passed, I’ll be able to start creating my portfolio of work and begin progressing the next stage, my NVQ.”


“Work and learning have been busy and progressive since my last diary entry. I took the shotfiring course week commencing 13th May and am pleased to say I’ve passed the exam. I also attended the EPC-UK Operations Roadshow which was a great way to meet more members of the team and learn about different aspects of the roles they perform as part of the wider EPC-UK picture. 

“I’ve also had the opportunity to receive Expertir© training from EPC-UK’s Senior Explosives Engineer, Dr. Geoff Adderley, which means I’ll be able to support the team in digitally collecting data using blast design software to produce the best possible blasting specifications for each individual blast. Using more tech, I’ve recorded videos of blasts being performed using one of our drones, which was a great experience. 

“My confidence is building and I’m now carrying out certain tasks unsupervised. I’ve been working on the truck pipe as a second operator and have started putting parts of the blast specification together. I’ve also watched different initiation (non-electric) type blasts performed, enabling me to see the different elements of the role come together.  I’m very pleased with my decision to join EPC-UK. The team is brilliant at teaching new starters how to perform the tasks involved in the job and I’m learning something new and beneficial every day.”


For more information about employment and training opportunities at EPC-UK, contact Julie.Wootton@epc-groupe.co.uk

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