Project Officer, Simtars
Information deficiencies during emergencies is increasingly seen as a critical issue for emergency response. Information should be gathered to provide “intelligence” about the underground conditions after a major incident, such as an explosion or rock fall. This project investigated four key areas related to information gathering:
Post explosion atmosphere monitoring:– An industry study into available, low powered, sensors were conducted. The study was to identify commercially available equipment to sample the mine atmosphere post an underground incident.
Ultra-resilient communication system:– An investigation was undertaken into the feasibility of components for a robust and resilient mine communication network. The network must survive an underground incident and be able to transmit information in and out of an underground mine environment.
Blast protection (or blast resilience):– The blast protection was evaluated through subjecting different shapes of enclosures to actual blasts, in an explosion propagation tube.
Navigational aids:– A series of test were undertaken to determine the suitability of using visible light, infra-red as well as radar to aid in self rescue. All test were undertaken in a “dusty”, or low-visibility, environment.
This paper will present the results obtained for each of the key areas and highlight the potential of such a system in an underground coal mine environment.
Dr. Rebecca Allen
Researcher, School of Psychology, The University of Newcastle
Coal mining has been internationally recognised as a high-risk industry with high fatality rates in comparison to other occupations. Within the Australian coal mining industry, the level of occupational risk has been identified as 70% higher than the national average. The present study undertook an exploratory investigation of the causes of risk-taking among Australian coal miners. The study is the first to use a longitudinal approach to investigate the association between safety culture and risk-taking among Australian coal miners.
This approach allows clearer conclusions about the causal relations between variables. Data was collected via repeat survey from a sample of 233 open-cut and underground coal miners from New South Wales and Queensland. Perceived safety norms were found to be a significant longitudinal predictor of reported frequency of risk-taking. Miners who perceived it to be normal for miners at their mine site to ignore safety procedures and take risks were more likely to report taking safety risks in the future. This finding suggests that poor safety norms cause subsequent increases in risk-taking behaviour. Safety interventions are considered, focusing on improving perceived safety norms to potentially reduce risk-taking.
Dr Snezana Bajic
Technical Services Manager, Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (Simtars)
Reliable gas monitoring is a key element to ensure that the mine based controls are effective.
Coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales have been facing issues in controlling tailgate methane levels and recently there have been two serious spontaneous combustion events. Legislation and Australian standards make specific requirements for the installation and maintenance of gas monitoring systems.
This paper discusses the issues related to gas monitoring, tailgate methane control, alarm set points and proposals for feedback loops on alarm notifications and acknowledgements. The paper will not discuss individual mine events but will focus on reliable gas monitoring to enable early detection and proactive actions to be taken.
Senior Inspector of Mines, Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
This paper discusses critical controls – those which can prevent fatal and catastrophic events from occurring in Queensland surface coal mines. To understand what the critical controls are we have to identify all fatal hazards in surface coal mines.
Analysis of all fatalities that have occurred in Queensland coal mines since 1969, show hazards causing the majority of fatalities in surface mines are distinctly different to those causing the majority of fatalities in underground mines. During this 50 year period there have been 132 fatalities in Queensland coal mines, 94 in underground and 38 in surface mines.
A breakdown shows 86% of fatalities in underground mines were caused by principal hazards. In surface mines only 24% of fatalities were caused by principal hazards. This means for surface mines the majority of critical controls relate to a number of fatal hazards which are not principal hazards.
Based on that analysis the Queensland coal mine inspectorate has sought information from surface coal mine companies relating to the fatal hazards and critical controls identified within their risk identification systems. This information will be developed into audit and inspection guidelines which the inspectorate will apply when carrying out inspections and audits at surface coal mines.
Dr. Tristan Casey
Lecturer, Griffith University
What exactly is a ‘safety culture’? How is one achieved (and is it even possible)? What is the link between leadership and safety culture? As a result of the plethora of answers to these questions, there is also diversity of approaches to safety culture improvement within mining. The LEAD model is an integrated and evidence-based framework that focusses on the leadership and team work practices required to build a safety culture.</p .
Freely available through the Safety Leadership at Work program, the LEAD model and toolkit are designed to empower organisations regardless of size or industry to achieve positive safety culture outcomes. Developed through a partnership between academia (Curtin University and University of Queensland), government (Workplace Health and Safety Queensland), and industry (including the Sustainable Minerals Institute), the LEAD model has been operationalised as a practical toolkit.
A cohort of 12 workplaces representing a diverse snapshot of different sectors (including the mining industry) participated in the design, delivery, and evaluation of the LEAD toolkit. In addition to presenting the LEAD model, my presentation will also describe the main phases and resources within the LEAD toolkit, and present a short case-study around the outcomes achieved through this project.
SHE Manager, Anglo American
A proactive safety culture is the desired end state for Anglo American’s Dawson Mine. The journey relies upon the initiation of a strong system to promote embedding the desired safety behaviours within the organisation.
At Dawson Mine, this system is “Recognition and Reward Scheme”. The scheme relies on hazard reporting and innovation drives, aligning with the core values of Safety and Innovation. Hazard reporting and associated rectification is critical to improve safety ownership. Prior to implementation, 60% of hazards were reported by the general workforce. This has now increased to 90%, with a total increase in hazard reporting of 20%. The success of the scheme can be attributed to two main factors; firstly, an easy to use system, responsive to feedback, and secondly an immediate reward implication, with those crews achieving high rates of genuine hazard notification receiving recognition.
The second success of the scheme is the increase in innovation from the workforce. Innovations are submitted to the site’s Safety, Health and Environment Committee with nominees and award recipients celebrated quarterly across the site.
The “Recognition and Reward Scheme” develops a culture of intervention and ‘speaking up’, encouraging employees not to be a bystander but be fully involved in behavioural safety.
The provision of information, instruction, training and supervision is an essential component of any risk management strategy. A robust training and assessment program is fundamental to the safety of not
only those conducting tasks, but also other workers and people who may be affected by their work.
Can our training and assessment programs be more robust? Have we let complacency slip in? Have we stopped training and assessing in some areas because “it hasn’t happened for a while”?
During this Workshop, coordinated by the Resources Training Council, we will explore these questions and more.
Inspector of Mines – Occupational Hygiene
The underground mine environment may contain a number of airborne contaminants that affect worker health. This includes diesel plant exhaust (gases and particulate matter) that is emitted into the underground work environment.
The classification of diesel exhaust as a Class 1 ‘confirmed human carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) necessitates the management of the workers’ exposure to diesel exhaust.
The Mines Inspectorate has undertaken a study of underground mines to evaluate the level of risk to mine workers and the effectiveness of differing management strategies for diesel exhaust.
In the initial phase of this study, the monitoring results for mine worker exposure to diesel exhaust were collated for underground Similar Exposure Groups (SEGs). The characterisation of the exposure monitoring found that some SEGs (service crews and drilling operations) have higher exposure risk.
In the second part of the study, the effectiveness of the control measures applicable to different SEGs were analysed to identify the optimal control strategies.
This paper presents the finding that no single control measure is sufficient, and that a multifactorial approach incorporating complementary control measures is required to ensure the effective management of diesel exhaust in underground mines.
Inspector, (Occupational Hygiene), Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
Inhalable dust refers to all dust that may enter the mouth and nose during normal breathing. Inhalable dust may be divided into ‘respirable’ and ‘non- respirable’ fractions. The dust particle size will ultimately determine the site of deposition within the respiratory system. Respirable dust particles (<10 micron) may penetrate deep into the gas exchange regions of the lung. The ‘non respirable’ faction includes both ‘extra thoracic dust particles (<100 micron)’ and ‘thoracic dust particles (<25 micron)’.
The re-identification of CWP among Queensland coal mine workers and, more recently, the increase in cases of silicosis among engineered stone workers is a stark reminder of the hazards associated with exposure to respirable dust. Recent reforms to the respiratory component of the existing coal mine workers health scheme have resulted in major improvements with respect to the early detection and diagnosis of mine dust lung disease (MDLD). These improvements have led to a number of other forms of MDLD being detected among Queensland mine workers that are not associated with pneumoconiosis. A growing number of these cases fall into the broad category of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There is an increasing body of evidence implicating exposure to larger dust particles (outside the respirable fraction) and an inflammatory response in the lung, resulting in COPD.
Unlike the Queensland metalliferous mining and quarrying legislation, there is currently no prescribed regulatory limit for inhalable dust in Queensland coal mining legislation. Despite this, the majority of coal mines have recognised this as a potential health hazard as part of their site health risk assessments (HRA).
This paper reviews available inhalable dust exposure data that has been provided to the Mines Inspectorate for Queensland coal mines since the introduction of risk based legislation in 1999. The paper considers the evidence basis for regulatory amendment to ensure risk is at an acceptable level and as low as reasonably achievable.
Dr. Rolf Gomes
Founder and Cardiologist, Heart of Australia Corporate Health Initiative
Despite the enormous resources committed by the Mining Industry in developing workplace health and safety initiatives, the average health of the mining workforce still lags white collar employees.
Drivers of poor physical and psychological health amongst mining workers are often ‘external’ and lifestylerelated, commonly developing during the ‘crunch years’ (i.e. 25-50 when juggling increasing workplace and family responsibilities). These preventable health issues not only impact the growing burden of chronic illness in Australia but increase health and safety risks and contribute to diminished workplace performance.
Traditional attempts to address this issue have not commonly delivered long-term tangible outcomes for the individual or organisation. A more effective early intervention approach is required, incorporating contemporary biomedical, lifestyle, social and organisational research data. As well as having a rigorous clinical underpinning, new health screening programs need to be packaged into cost-effective and operationally efficient delivery models that enable democratised access across large workforces.
Successful early-intervention health programs across the Mining Industry offer significant mutual benefit to employees, workplaces and local communities alike (particularly via ‘network effects’ that exist within close-knit mining communities). Although currently lagging, the Mining Industry has the potential to become a recognised leader in this critical workplace and societal issue.