Working on a mine site can be risky business. Despite significant improvements in health and safety over the last 10 years, the mining industry still has one of the highest rates of fatalities of any industry.
Common risks include body stress, manual handling, slips and falls, being hit by moving objects or machinery and working with high-risk plant.
And now with the impending threat of COVID-19, there is extra pressure to ensure the safety of your team on site.
Here are some of the top risks and what you can do to maintain the health and safety of your team members:
Mental health and stress
Mine work can be both physically and mentally draining, especially with rosters promoting long shifts and night shift work.
Staying well hydrated and nourished can go a long way in preventing an accident. Team members who are well-rested and healthy are less likely to make errors.
Some miners, especially in the Queensland heat, can also face thermal stress.
Humid mining environments can cause the body to become fatigued, causing heat stroke or more serious health problems.
To assist with this, where possible, control temperatures and regulate the length of exposure to hot environments.
Coal dust inhalation
Coal dust is one of the most common concerns for miners.
Ongoing inhalation of coal dust can cause a form of lung disease, also known as miner’s lung,
Ensure your workers are trained on the hazards of over-exposure to coal mine dust and use respiratory protection when needed.
Mines are noisy places, with the constant of drilling and heavy machinery, and the potential for hearing damage is quite serious.
Studies have shown that over-exposure to excessive noise can cause sleep disturbances, concentration problems and even permanent hearing loss.
To protect your workers, companies should evaluate working conditions and noise exposure through risk assessments and ensure proper use of personal hearing protection.
Here in Queensland, exposure to UV in sunlight is hard to avoid.
Without proper protection measures, your team risks skin cancer and eye damage.
While also ensuring personal protective measures such as sunscreen, hats, long-sleeve shirts, re-organising work to avoid the UV peak of the day and providing natural or artificial shade will also assist.
Your risk of contracting COVID-19
During these times when COVID-19 is prevalent, the Queensland Chief Health Officer is requiring all companies to submit a Health Plan that complies with its requirements.
The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy also report that the following extra precautions should be in place for FIFO or drive-in and drive-out workers across the sector:
- infection control in kitchens and food preparation areas
- suitable accommodation for self-quarantine
- maintaining social distancing in camps, including for recreational activities, including outdoor sport
- limiting movement of workers from camps and into the broader community
- no more ‘hot bedding’ to limit contact between employees
- cleaning each room thoroughly between uses, including changing and washing linen.
- avoiding close contact during transport, including reducing the numbers of people travelling on buses and aircraft.
- thorough cleans between passenger loads getting off, and those getting on
- temperature testing at airports for passengers boarding aircraft
- people with symptoms not travelling, and to immediately isolate, and seek medical advice.
- reducing FIFO and DIDO during the COVID-19 to minimise the mass movement of people.
For that latest Queensland Health advice on the COVID-19 please visit www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus.
Is public liability insurance still important?
Yes. Mining projects will always involve a certain level of risk and, if that risk is not managed carefully it could have far-reaching negative effects.
With the increase in mining job opportunities pending make sure you’re covered for all your insurance requirements.
MineGARD by Gardian provides market leading, comprehensive mine site specific public liability insurance online.