Australian Mining Puts Safety First
Mine safety is always a primary concern in any part of the world where this dangerous profession is undertaken. Because of the physical and geographical demands of the job, safety measures need to be taken in order to prevent disaster. In Australia, where mining is a primary industry, those safety needs have always been taken into consideration.
While any mining can be dangerous, for obvious reasons it is underground mining that carries the most risk.
With workers plying their trade deep below the Earth`s surface in narrow, poorly lit and ventilated shafts, the possibility for injury and even death is extreme. For this reason, most countries in the world maintain strict health and safety guidelines for their mine workers.
Safety equipment such as steel-toed boots, gloves and hard hats are mandatory in most mines. While organised mining operations, particularly the larger ones like Olympic Dam in South Australia, generally provide some amount of lighting in their shafts, it also standard mine safety procedure for miners to carry a flashlight or head lamp at all times.
Most large mines also provide ventilation shafts at regular intervals to allow fresh air to reach the miners and miners are usually urged to remain as close to one of these shafts as possible while they work. This is particularly true for coal miners, who can be especially susceptible to breathing in coal dust and to tapping into pockets of methane while working the mine.
The biggest threats to mine safety are explosion and cave-ins. As workers continue to strip away layers of rock to reach the ore they are after, mine walls can become unstable and occasionally they will collapse entirely. Also, when methane or other natural gas deposits are revealed they can spark an explosion, which may also cause a cave-in.
The equipment used in mining can contribute to safety issues, if breakdowns or accidents occur. Australia has been particularly vigilant on this count and remains a leader in the mining industry when it comes to the implementation of technology in the mining process. Some of Australia`s technological advances have been so significant that they have been adopted worldwide.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful any mining operation may be, there is always the potential for slip-ups where mine safety is concerned. Almost every country that engages in mining has had its share of mining disasters and Australia is no exception. As mining operations continue to improve, those instances have become more rare. The last such instance in Australia happened in 2006 at a gold mine at Beaconsfield in Tasmania, when a collapse killed one miner and injured two others.
Nobody takes the risks that miners undergo lightly, least of all the mining industry in Australia. Any injury or death is one too many and so every possible step is taken to make sure that any risk is reduced or eliminated. Safety comes first in Australia`s mines, and its historical record certainly bears that out.
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