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New report aims to improve safety in Western Australia's mining sector

TheDepartment of Mines and Petroleum(DMP) aims to improve the overall safety of mining activities in Western Australia, releasing a new report that ou...

|Aug 27|magazine10 min read

The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) aims to improve the overall safety of mining activities in Western Australia, releasing a new report that outlines the groundwork to reducing mining fatalities and injuries in the region.

The ‘Serious Injury Review’ report analyzed 658 serious mining injuries, including three fatalities, during a six month period from July to December 2013 to gain a better understanding of how serious accidents unfold. The report also assessed 52 fatal accidents between 2000 and 2012 to better understand how to prevent them from having fatal outcomes.

The three main hazards identified in the report are: falling while working at height; being in the line of fire from objects or suspended loads; and being struck or crushed by machines or heavy components.

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“The key objective of both these reports was to develop a better understanding of the injury risk profile of the State’s mining industry,” said Andrew Chaplyn, Department of Mines and Petroleum engineer.

“These risk profiles have been compared to establish if the hazards and causation factors identified from the recent serious injury data are consistent with the results of the fatal accident review.

“Both the serious injury review and the fatal accident review have independently identified the three main hazards for all employees.

“They are falling while working at height, being in the line of fire for objects or suspended loads, and being struck or crushed by machines and heavy components.”

According to the report, 75 percent to 80 percent of the fatalities involved repeated scenarios which included vehicle collisions, runaway vehicles, electrical contacts, rock falls beyond the limit of supported ground, pit wall failures and the in-rush situations in underground mines.

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Mines and Petroleum Minister, Bill Marmion, said: “Despite a fatality-free year in 2012 and six deaths in 2009, there have been, on average, two to three deaths a year on Western Australian mine sites. This report identifies an annual average of 200 high-consequence injuries, which have very similar causal factors to fatalities.”

“The risk profiles identified in the review will help the industry better understand how to avoid dangerous and sometimes lethal workplace risks,” the Minister said.

The report outlined several recommendations the industry could implement to prevent future accidents and fatalities from occurring, including improved hazard identification, supervision to ensure that workers were in compliance with procedures, and improved training and adequate breaks.

“Industry is committed to ensuring the safety and health of our workforce and will closely review these findings so that key lessons can be incorporated back on site,” said Reg Howard-Smith, Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy CEO.

“When it comes to safety there is absolutely no room for complacency. The resources sector will remain vigilant and work hard to ensure everyone gets home safe and well after finishing work.”

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