Fatalities on mine sites in Queensland should not be occuring – that’s the opinion of Queensland’s Mines Safety Commissioner.
Too many accidents involving contractors have prompted a review of safety education and procedures to prevent future fatalities.
The alarming number of mining contractors being involved in fatal accidents whilst working on Australian mine sites in the last six months has increased calls for the mining industry to take more care of its workers.
The most alarming of all is the number of contractors that have lost their lives in various mining accidents across the country. Out of the 7 workers who lost their lives in mining accidents, 5 were contractors.
This raises the question of contractor training and induction programs that are designed to prevent such fatalities.
The Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines qualification known as the Standard 11, was introduced to alert mine workers to the types of risks that exist on a mine site.
The purpose of the mining induction course is to provide strategies and solutions to mitigate risk in the workplace and create a safe working environment.
In regard to the latest mining fatalities, Queensland commissioner Stewart Bell said while Queensland is not represented in the latest figures, contractors are generally overrepresented in fatal mining accidents.
Mining companies, who are responsible for mining operations as well as the site senior executives and managers, must understand that effective management of contractors is part of their duty of care and should always remain a high priority.
The safety of all mine workers, regardless of whether they are a contractor or mine employee, is primarily the responsibility of the mine operator and SSE.
“Queensland mining safety and health legislation does not distinguish between mining company employee and contractor employees,”¯ Bell said.
In Queensland, the mining act requires that a single site specific safety and health management system (SHMS) be used for all employees and contractors to make certain that risk in the workplace is managed at all times.
“Ensuring contractors are being managed under a single SHMS is a key focus this year for the Queensland Mine Inspectorate,”¯ Bell said.
One of the major concerns in the industry is that some mining executives regard these types of risks as not being their responsibility.
Mr Bell made a point of stating it was his view mine managers should review and approve contractor processes and procedures before any work begins. This would then be integrated into the site`s safety and health management system.
The following must be considered and addressed in the site Safety Health and Management System:
- All contractor activities/personnel and equipment are identified.
- An effective method for supervising contractors is established.
- All contractor activities have procedures/standard work instructions or job safety analyses (JSAs) that form part of the site SHMS.
- All contractor employees are confirmed as competent to undertake their intended tasks.
- All contractor equipment is maintained appropriately and is fit for purpose.