Underground mining operations are one of the most dangerous activities in the Australian mining industry.
Far greater hazards exist compared to above-ground mining, so why are more people putting themselves at risk in 2014?
So far this year , ten people have been killed in the mines in Australia. A shocking total of 46 across all industries, according to Safe Work Australia figures.
So what is happening in Australian mines? Are workers forgetting what they learned from the mining induction training course? Despite heavily legislated safety and induction training processes, why are people ignoring the dangers and continually putting themselves at risk?
The mining industry accounted for about 5 per cent of all workplace fatalities in Australia in 2013.
Mining Unions have indicated that mines could be a safer place to work when mining companies hire employees rather than outsourcing the jobs to contractors.
Some of the larger mining companies in Australia have recently brought mining operations back in-house in a bid to improve their safety record.
Is mining induction training essential in the industry?
Mining induction training seems quite complicated and hard to understand for many people – yet it’s really very simple. There is a lot of confusion as to why the course, especially the Standard 11, has to be completed in the first place.
Popular opinion is that mining safety training is unwarranted and that many people who think this way are just not aware of the risks and hazards the miners have to face every single day of their working life. Just the very mention of sitting in a classroom for 2 days learning about Work Health and Safety is enough to put many people off – yet, it could just save your life!
“Better just wing it and learn on the job”
“I don’t need to do a mining induction training course, better I just wing it and learn on the job”. We hear this a lot from people who want to get a job in the mines, but in all reality, people who want to get a job in the mines don’t have any idea or inclination of what to expect when they step onto a mine site.
Many people don’t understand why they have to do a training course and think that spending the extra money is unnecessary and is essentially a waste of money.
The hazards of underground mining operations
Let’s just look at the recent and unfortunate tragedy that happened in New South Wales recently, when two miners lost their lives in an underground mining accident. They were† literally working at the bare coalface when a wall of coal collapsed covering them with tons and tons of debris.
Underground mining is so very different from above ground in an open cut mine and there are so many more hazards. Working underground in confined spaces, the likelihood of hazards increases. Workers need to be a lot more safety conscious and constantly aware of the dangerous situations that can eventuate in a split second.
“performing a very dangerous task”
These miners were working on a longwall section of the mine and were in the process of drilling. They were performing a very dangerous task and they were relatively unprotected. It seems this type of operation is quite common when engaging in longwall mining development – yet could this tragedy have been avoided?
Longwall mining technology involves the use of a huge machine that literally cuts its way up and down a coal face, all the while the roof above is supported by hydraulic roof supports as well as roof-bolting techniques. The purpose of the hydraulic roof supports is to stop the material above the area being mined from falling in on itself.
“a very hazardous type of mining”
It is a very hazardous type of mining, however more and more above ground coal and ore deposits become depleted and the quality of the mineral decreases, we will be seeing a lot more underground mines being developed in Australia. Would a mining induction training refresher course have prevented this accident from becoming a double fatality?
So how did this mining accident happen? Could it have been avoided and were the risks really necessary?
“be a lot more safety cautious”
Mining heads underground – a new future
When we talk about a new future in mining and understand that it is inevitable more and more underground mines will be developed, mining safety training must be more stringent and regular. Mining induction refresher courses are every 5 years, however, we feel this needs to change. Continual reminders of the risks and hazards of performing mining operations must be put in place. Risk-taking should not be an option.
“daily risk assessments”
Supervisors and mining health and safety managers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring the workplace is kept immune from unnecessary risk. Performing daily risk assessments is a part of every miner’s †job list. Reporting hazards and reviewing the immediate work environment is critical for the safety and well-being of every crew member.
Mining induction training and mining refresher courses reaffirm these principles to create greater awareness of risk in the workplace and goes a long way to preventing fatalities such as those that occurred in the NSW underground mine accident at†Yancoal`s Austar mine in the Hunter Valley region.
Mining safety – make it a daily habit
Everyone who is working in the mining industry, or is considering a career in the sector should take the time to pause, think and review why mining induction and an induction refresher course is mandatory. Despite having attended an initial training course and attending a site-specific induction, daily risks are still being taken in the Australian mining industry.
“the Standard 11 qualification”
The Queensland government Department of Natural Resources and Mines makes every effort to enforce the strict guidelines around the Standard 11 qualification. Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) Australia-wide are given strict instructions on how to deliver training courses to educate and inform new and existing workers of changes to the legislation in the mining industry.
Continual assessment and review of RTO’s is a common occurrence, yet the same seems to be lacking when it comes to enforcing safety compliance and procedures on a mine site – this must be improved.
Mining Induction Training & Refresher Course
The Mining Induction course and Mining Induction Refresher is proven to be the course that the Australian mining industry should follow. At the moment, it seems Queensland sets the high standards, yet other States seem to be the laggards in terms of †initiating their own version of the Standard 11.
“personal safety and risk management -† a complete reference”
Mining Induction is well worth the investment. The course provides massive insights into life in the mines as well as being a complete reference in terms of personal safety and risk management. Many thousands of people look to the Australian mining industry as an opportunity to make a good living and learn new skills.
“continual risk management and awareness”
Just as many people fail to realise the importance of safety training and the continual risk management and awareness processes that must be followed for the entirety of a mining career.
You can’t just bluff your way into a mining job – you must show you have completed a mining induction training course, or your chances of securing employment are very slim.
Think safety first – don’t risk it!