The EPC way – Following our new starters’ accelerated route to shotfirer success

Apr 30, 2024

In January 2024, EPC-UK welcomed two new starters to its commercial quarrying environment; Josh McNeill, a former Non-commissioned Officer in the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, and Sean Hughes, who’d previously progressed a career in construction.  As part of the ‘EPC way’ of encouraging those with transferable skills to develop a new professional route, both were chosen to train internally along an accelerated learning programme to becoming qualified EPC-UK shotfirers.

Onsite has been following their progress 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

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


“The EPC-UK accelerated shotfirer training has been really rewarding so far, as I’m constantly developing new skills and knowledge. The team I have been working with demonstrate EPC-UK’s SPIRIT values completely and are supportive and more than happy to help me with my modules. I’m performing certain tasks now without supervision, which gives me a satisfying feeling of development.

“I’ll have 22 modules to successfully complete overall, after which I’ll be signed off as a qualified shotfirer. I’m finding learning the theoretical processes very interesting and the training tools I’ve been provided with are helping me to put the theory into practice when I’m on site. Shadowing experienced colleagues also helps a lot with all modules, including planning and preparing the blast site, firing the shot and performing post blast inspections. 

“I’m also becoming familiar with the specific explosives used for different sites and why, which will be vital for me to know moving forward so I can work in a variety of quarry environments.” 


“Already I have found working at EPC-UK to be completely different to the construction role I was performing before. While there has been a lot to learn, everyone is happy to help new starters to understand processes and the risks of the tasks being performed before proceeding. I am impressed with the high standards that EPC-UK works to, including ensuring that you’ve checked the Safety 5s of: Stop and Think, Look and Identify, Assess the Risk, Control Hazards, and Monitor Hazards.

“I have now been inducted on all eight sites and have been appointed as a Trainee Shotfirer. I have helped with marking out for drill holes and the blast specifications and have watched qualified drone pilots perform the profiling process ahead of starting my own drone flying course in a couple of weeks.  I’ve learned a lot about putting explosives together and the different types of explosives used, as well as the way the explosives are transported, how to charge a hole, and the different timings that can be used for detonation. There’s still lots to learn of course, and I’ve been using the recently revised Institute of Quarrying Handbook as a helpful tool, particularly to understand the prevention of misfires and fly rock.

“Following my drone flying training I’ll be starting the shotfiring course in May, so it’s going to be a busy few weeks!”


For more information about employment and training opportunities at EPC-UK, contact

EPC-UK’s SPIRIT values

Safety, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork

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