Ask anyone in the Minerals Industry what the most important thing about underground mining is and they will all tell you the same thing; safety. Not production capability, workflow, or finding the most precious materials in the world.
Those working in the industry are the only ones that have an idea of the extreme environment employees are exposed to for extended periods of time underground. Those that don’t work in the industry simply don’t have an idea – out of sight, out of mind.
The truth is that working in a mine is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Still today, one can see worldwide news about miners being trapped underground with no hope of getting rescued because of the life-threatening dangers associated with even attempting it.
But despite the dangers that exists, the industry continues with its exploration of the ultimate goal; zero harm.
How can we get to a place where the industry poses zero harm to its workforce? Is it even possible? Although the answer seems to be one that still eludes us, it is the questioning thereof that could result in its answering.
By definition, danger is something that poses an immediate threat to any person, property or the environment – where suitable response needs to have been planned long in advance to avoid the threat. When absolutely no measures of protection have been put into place, danger is at its highest and lurks around every corner, especially in the mining sector. But although there is so much that can go wrong, the industry was built upon the fact that with the identification and effective strategies and actions in place to deal with the risks involved, mining has no reason to be life threatening or dangerous.
It is imperative that those that have been setting the standard for mining safety around the world continue to innovative new equipment and processes that increase working standards underground. Without certain strategies and equipment to implement these processes, going underground into a mine can be a death wish. One slip up and you’re gone. One mistake and you could cost the lives of the whole team.
Let’s have a look at some of the risks associated with underground mining and why it can be such a hazardous endeavour.
Those mining coal stare many risks in the face on a daily basis. Things like cave-ins and/or ground-fall, gas explosions, the collision of sector-relevant vehicles and mobile equipment, exposure to chemicals, electrocution, and even wild fires. These are some of the most notable accidents that have taken the lives of miners all around the world, from Africa to Australia.
In order to improve safety and health standards in Australian mining, the industry has adopted a philosophy that puts the protection of the workers before anything else. Not only is the sector committed to values that embody this, but it seeks to be a world-leader in performance at the same time.
According to www.cornerstonemag.net, the “Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), as the peak representative body for the minerals industry in Australia, supports the promotion of:
- A world-leading health and safety culture;
- A policy framework encouraging transparent, honest communication among all stakeholders;
- Appropriate resources across the sector that includes human resources to establish exceptional performance outcomes; and
- Clearly assigned responsibilities for every single process under a person’s control.”
Although Australia’s dedication to health and safety has been the difference between life and death over the last few years – with a serious improvement in the umber of fatalities from 33 in 1997 to only two in 2013 – a recent rise in deaths has seen 17 lose their lives since 2013.
This statistic begs for a closer look and re-examination of the dangers associated with the industry, together with the chaotic and nonlinear nature of the accidents – some having absolutely no correlation to one another.
As one of Australia’s premier suppliers of mining solutions and equipment development and repair, Boomerang Engineering is doing our part in establishing a culture of safety and zero harm for anyone remotely associated to the industry.