The tragic news of 2 NSW mining fatalites in an underground mining accident has once again placed mining safety back on the agenda.
An investigation is under way at Yancoal`s Austar mine in the Hunter Valley region which employs about 400 workers.
Renewed calls for increased training and safety awareness are up for discussion and unions and mining companies are ready to talk.
Mining companies have a legal responsibility to create a safe working environment for all workers, however, despite the most stringent of policies and procedures, sometimes things go wrong.
Underground mining and working in small confined spaces is dangerous. People are working in tight spaces on heavy machinery, especially when we’re talking about longwall mining as was the case in this recent mining accident.
This particular mine, the Austar mine which was run by Chinese backed Yancoal, has a history of safety concerns which have been raised since 2003 when the mine was actually closed.
CFMEU president, Peter Jordan of the northern mining and NSW energy district, said to his knowledge there were no safety issues raised at the operation, however commenting on the recent number of unfortunate fatalities in the mining industry, it was obvious much more safety awareness training was required.
He went on to say the mining industry as a whole had reasonably good legislation in place requiring how mine operators were meant to operate, although he said the recent deaths highlighted the question about the industry’s belief it has got it right.
“I don`t believe we can say we have it right when we are still having deaths in the mining industry”¯, he said.
The NSW Minerals Council said that while the mining industry has a reputation for its strong safety record, the truth of the matter is the recent NSW mining fatalities highlighted the dangers mine workers faced every single day.
“This incident is a tragic reminder of why safety is the industry`s No 1 priority,”¯ the industry body said.
The CFMEU`s Peter Jordan said the Yancoal owned Austar mine was an old mine and had repeatedly been a difficult mining operation to run.
Questions have been raised about whether or not the accident could have been prevented and whether safety boundaries were crossed? That needs to be answered and, if this tragedy could have been avoided , why wasn`t it?”¯ he said.
“If it couldn`t have been detected under the current mining plans and systems we have, then why not, and the industry has to be challenged on that.”¯ he said.
In light of this recent tragedy, iMINCO urges all mine workers to once again think before taking any sort of risk. A keen observation and a review of hazards in the workplace are a part of the daily work practice.
Mining accidents can be avoided, it’s up to everyone to do their part and raise the awareness of the risks and hazards that are faced by hundreds of thousands of people employed in mining jobs.
Stay safe out there and remember – don’t take unnecessary risks and report all hazards.
Reference: NSW Mining Fatalities