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Following our new starters’ accelerated route to shotfirer success

Jan 29, 2024

Professionally enabling employees is part of the culture of trust we’ve developed at EPC-UK. If an individual joins the team with relevant skills or transferable expertise in place, we strive to help them progress their career and bolster their capabilities with new skills and qualifications, safely and effectively.

The EPC way

In January EPC-UK welcomed two new starters to its commercial quarrying environment; Josh McNeill, from a military background, and Sean Hughes, who joins us from the construction industry. Based on their approach and professional suitability for development, Josh and Sean have been chosen to train internally along an advanced learning route to becoming qualified EPC-UK shotfirers. Over coming months, Onsite will track their training progress and discover how they are finding the developmental experience of learning a new role with EPC-UK as they work to complete a programme of 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

“Our industry is progressing at pace,” EPC-UK’s General Manager Blasting & Explosives, Ben Coppock says, “and we need to recruit and train the right teams and equip them with effective skills to support it. This makes accelerated learning an increasingly important option within the EPC-UK programme of training opportunities. It enables us, when appropriate, to advance employees’ skills and qualification attainment, whilst maintaining competence and our exceptionally high safety standards.”

SPIRIT journeys

We will catch up with both Josh and Sean as they progress along their learning journeys and find out what building a career at EPC-UK feels like for them as they receive encouragement from our team and its SPIRIT value culture.

Josh’s background 

Before joining us in January, Josh held a military position as a Non-commissioned Officer in the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment for seven years. During that time, he trained to perform a variety of roles and tactics — some involving heavy weapons systems, drones, air skills and armoured vehicles. 

As a result, Josh has gathered a wide range of abilities, knowledge and technical skills that can be effectively transferred to a shotfiring role. 

“Military training has made me robust in nature, hardworking and confident in hazardous, or high-pressure situations,” Josh says. “When I decided to leave the military, I thought it may be difficult to find a professional position that could offer similar job satisfaction. I live close to one of the region’s large quarrying environments and learned through word of mouth that EPC-UK were interviewing to appoint trainee shotfirers. I researched the role and felt that my skills and teamwork mentality could be a good match for the post.”

Having already had experience of handling explosives; with knowledge of components, relevant technical data and full comprehension of the importance of safe handling, Josh proved himself an excellent candidate for advanced shotfirer training. We’re looking forward to supporting his journey and learning more about his development through the Onsite diary as his shotfirer training progresses.

Sean’s background 

Sean has worked in the construction industry for ten years, progressing through a range of roles from groundworker to shovel operator. Most recently he’s operated equipment to put pipes in the ground and has built his skills driving excavators and dozers that use GPS technology.

“I was looking for a change in direction, however still within the industry I’m familiar with,” Sean says. “I felt attracted to the diversity a more ‘hands on’ and technical job could offer. Then, an EPC-UK employee I’d been working with recommended the company to me. My application was successful, and I’ve now been selected for advanced shotfirer training. 

“I feel that having already worked within a quarrying environment and with construction industry skills under my belt, I’ve developed transferable understanding and abilities that I’ll apply to the shotfiring role. 

“I’m excited to start employment and training with EPC-UK. This will be a job where I’ll never experience the same day twice and will have the opportunity to work in lots of different locations. It will be great to learn more about the technology behind the tools and techniques the team uses and I’m looking forward to having the skills to fire a blast for the first time. Through the Onsite diary, I’ll provide updates on the progress I make!”

EPC-UK’s SPIRIT values

Safety, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork

Training starts immediately for both Josh and Sean, where safety will be prioritised at every stage. We’ll catch up again with them soon to share the latest on their development.

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

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