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Essential Points to Include in a Mining Workplace Safety Program

By: Grant King - IndustrySearch Writer
25 May, 2015

When it comes to risk, mining has it all – an extremely hazardous workplace slap bang in the middle of some of Australia's harshest, most unforgiving terrain.

No surprises then that a strict and comprehensive workplace safety program is a necessity for all mines. Is your safety program up to scratch? Here are the main areas of safety planning and risk management you should be addressing and why.

Start at the top

Effective safety starts with a strong commitment from management to take safety seriously. And no, that's not just a verbal agreement; this commitment requires the proactive input of time, money and resources.

Take the time to select safety supervisors to run the program and give them ongoing support. Spend the money necessary to maintain the entire program at a level that will maximise staff welfare. Provide all the resources necessary to give everyone involved the best chance of creating an enviable safety record across your entire mine.

Automate manual tasks

No, that doesn't mean replacing workers with robots. It means creating standard OSH practices for all manual tasks performed on your site, especially those deemed hazardous. If set procedures and controls are in place and have to be adhered to, workers will operate within safer parameters.

Seek advice from ergonomics experts. Not only can they help to ensure all tasks are performed correctly, they can work with designers and engineers to modify any areas or equipment of obvious risk.

Teach and train

Don't just tell your workers how to work safer, tell them why. All staff from management down need to be able to identify potentially dangerous situations and exactly where the dangers lie. Make all your training task-specific with its own unique skill set and safety knowledge base. Yes, this is far more time and labour-intensive, but the right kind of intensive care at the front end of the process may well avert the wrong kind later.

Get plenty of eyes on the ground

Mining environments are ever evolving, they don't stand still. So make sure your safety program is quick on its feet and able to adapt to any new threat. Fill your mine with eyes; supervisors and key workers charged with reporting any potentially adverse change in conditions or equipment. Make sure these same people also keep a constant watch over the safety program to ensure workers are working as they should.

Round up any new risks

The moment new risks are identified, interrogate them from every angle with a comprehensive risk assessment and management plan. Then redesign any dubious equipment or work scenario and retrain to accommodate the new risk. Make risk assessment an ongoing ritual and the rewards will be there to see in a proud safety record and healthy workforce.  

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