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.
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- 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.