Tunneling Training

The building industry has experienced a boom over the last couple of decades or so. It seems like everywhere we turn, there is a new construction site coming to life. But, one portion of this field of work has been gaining traction recently — tunnels, and with it comes a whole new set of responsibilities. A tunnel course is for all industry professionals who wish to gain knowledge pertaining to tunnel planning, design, and construction. This training will provide tunnel professionals with the knowledge needed to thrive in their careers, all the while keeping their working environment safe.

As the building sector continues to expand, new materials and methods are introduced. This may seem negligible because updates in specific areas occur daily, but in the construction industry, every oversight may lead to a potentially hazardous situation. Therefore, workers need to keep up with all of the trends, not only for the sake of learning about all of the innovations but also because it will help them stay secure.

Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered “confined” because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter, work in, and exit them. A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and it is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, process vessels, and pipelines. OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

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Safety Hazard Awareness for Tunnels (SHAFT) program was developed by the Northwest Laborers-Employers Training Trust with input from a team of industry experts and stakeholders, The SHAFT program seeks to fill a void by providing quality, comprehensive safety training for both new and experienced tunnel professionals. The curriculum is comprised of a blend of classroom discussion and use of materials and mockups in classes focusing on basic tunnel safety. Our facility, located in Elma, Washington, features a TBM mockup, loci, and access to 1,400’ feet of 12’ diameter tunnel, providing students with a unique, interactive educational experience.

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The construction of tunnels, regardless of method, typically include the installation of electrical systems, fire protection and suppression systems, lighting systems, communication systems, ventilation systems and walkways.

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Excavation and material handling is a central component of all tunneling operations. For smaller diameters and longer tunnels, a narrow-gauge railroad is commonly employed to take out the muck and bring in workers and construction material.

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NWLETT has decades-long experience in educating and training workers in the construction business. We take pride in our detailed, top-quality courses that cover a wide range of subspecialties, including heavy civil/highway construction sites, environmental, and specialty courses. Tunneling training falls into the last category, as these projects continue to become more and more prevalent with each passing year.

A tunnel course covers a wide array of topics, and by the end, all attendees will have a solid understanding of safety in tunnel construction, excavation and material handling, utilities, and how to enter and set up a confined space.

With our training, industry professionals will enter their workplace completely ready to face all kinds of scenarios, as they’ll possess knowledge of:

Methods and operations employed during tunnel construction;
Occupational, safety, and health hazards of working in such an environment;
Behavioral conduct, procedures, and risk assessment;
Expectations of working in a confined space and maintaining a safe workplace;
Standards and legislation pertaining to tunneling;
Proper way to enter and leave their workplace safely;
Usage of protective equipment;
Actions to take in hazardous and urgent situations.

If you choose us to deliver your tunnel engineering courses, you’ll be laying a solid foundation for your career in the building industry. We’re accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education, so you can rest assured that the knowledge and training you’ll get from our courses will be put to good use once you get permanent employment.


Tunnel training is a specialty course. However, this portion of the construction industry will continue to flourish in the next few years. If you’re still hesitant about enrolling, don’t be. According to the current state of the job market, getting a career in the tunneling industry could be a smart move. Namely, Congress has passed a $2 trillion infrastructure bill, which means there will be plenty of opportunities for employment in this sector.

As this industry continues to grow, the need for a new workforce is inevitable. Naturally, with such development come new technologies, procedures, and safety measures, so it’s integral to gain all of the necessary certifications before you embark on your journey.

NWLETT offers the so-called SHAFT training (Safety and Hazard Awareness for Tunnels), which is at the center of all of our tunneling courses. Apprentices will not only get a chance to listen to lectures, but they’ll also be getting some hands-on action thanks to our onsite tunnel boring machine mockup. This way, you’ll actually have some practical knowledge once you start working.

But that’s not all! Candidates will gain knowledge in material handling and excavation, electrical, ventilation, suppression, and fire systems. You’ll learn all there is to know about working in confined spaces like tunnels because our ultimate goal is to have you fully equipped with everything you need before you start your first day at work.


NWLETT stands at the pinnacle of construction education, offering focused tunneling and confined space training tailored for professionals in the industry aiming to enhance their skills and expand their career possibilities. As the construction sector flourishes with fresh projects frequently surfacing, the demand for adept tunneling specialists and confined space experts rises. Diving into a specialization in tunneling and confined space training can pave the way to fresh opportunities and elevate your professional trajectory.


Our confined space training program integrates comprehensive theoretical concepts with practical, hands-on training, offering a robust learning experience. The curriculum is tailored to cover key aspects of tunnel planning, design, construction, and confined space safety measures. Trainees will learn about tunneling methods, soil and rock classifications. In addition, they’ll learn about tunnel supports, safety precautions within confined spaces, machinery and equipment, and much more.


The course encompasses a range of crucial tunneling and confined space topics. Understand the nuances of different tunneling methods and explore various design aspects. Furthermore, students can dive deep into understanding key safety measures within confined spaces.

You’ll get to put your theoretical knowledge into practice with hands-on training modules, equipping you with real-world skill sets. Laborers’ scope of work covers many skills and aspects of the construction industry within confined spaces. It’s quite common for a Laborer to specialize in a particular scope of work and focus their entire career on it.


NWLETT’s Tunneling and Confined Space Training not only caters to both novices and seasoned construction professionals but also offers an enriching apprenticeship program that paves the way to diverse career opportunities within the tunneling and confined spaces sector. Our enrollment process is hassle-free, built for those interested in tunnel construction and confined space safety.


The tunneling training course and confined space course offers lucrative career prospects in the ever-evolving construction landscape, including roles like tunnel workers, safety officers, and more. Furthermore, students who complete our SHAFT class also earn an OSHA 10 completion certificate and OSHA 10 DOL (US Department of Labor) card in construction, ensuring they are well-versed in confined space safety protocols.


Funding for NWLETT’s training programs are fully funded by dues, specifically a small hourly deduction from every employee’s paycheck. We do not offer financial aid. However, the tunneling and confined space training is part of our Apprentice Training, which is tuition free! If you are interested and would like to explore potential funding options, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


If tunneling training is something that interests you but you still have loads of unanswered questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can do so by calling 800-240-9112 or filling out the contact form at the bottom of the page. Our friendly staff will reach out to you with detailed answers as soon as possible. We keep up with the latest trends, so you can be sure all of our courses are up to date.

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