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New risk management program improves mine safety

11 December, 2012

Managing risks in the resources industry is an ever changing challenge – however University of Queensland (UQ) researchers working with coal industry experts are making it easier through the development of an online database that delivers a body of knowledge on managing mine site risks.

The program, RISKGATE, enables coal industry personnel to better understand and control major selected incidents by providing information on event-specific controls.

RISKGATE researchers at the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre (SMI-MISHC) within UQ's Sustainable Minerals Institute have applied the unique Bow Tie Analysis (BTA) system to improve control identification and enable miners to better consider the range of causes and consequences for selected activities.

Eleven high-consequence risk areas have been explored in recent years: tyres and rims, isolation, collisions, strata control, ground control, fires, explosives (underground), explosives (open cut), explosions, manual tasks and slips, trips and falls.

Now, the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) has provided a further $1.3m funding to enable researchers to investigate six more areas: outbursts, inrush, coal bursts/bumps, interface – controls and displays, hazardous chemicals and tailings dams.

"At the start of this project, the coal industry identified 12 key target areas. Through our work, the project has expanded to target at least 17 areas of major risk to the industry," UQ Associate Professor and RISKGate Project Manager Philipp Kirsch said.

The latest round of funding takes ACARP's total RISKGATE investment to $3.5m, which is the Research Program's largest investment in health and safety.

"Australian coal companies focus significant resources in managing risk. With RISKGATE, you will have the ability to bring the industries current knowledge into the room when you do a risk assessment," Tony Egan from Xstrata Coal said on behalf of ACARP.

The funding announcement coincides with ACARP officially launching the RISKGATE website (www.riskgate.org) where coal mining companies will be able to access the program to better manage risks across their operations.

"The database we have developed is the most comprehensive in Australia. There has been input from Australia's six largest coal companies and I am confident it will lead to fewer incidents," Associate Professor Kirsch said.

Industry input is being sought for the next round of research – companies should contact Associate Professor Kirsch to find out more.

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