The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Risk Management of Respirable Crystalline Silica

Graham Marshall - Thursday, June 23, 2011
Enclosed here is a very interesting article on the risk management issues surrounding respirable crystalline silica and occupational health prepared by the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists.

To read the position paper, simply click here.

Failure to Assess Risk Proves Costly for Gold Miner

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The failure to adequately assess risk is not only dangerous but can result in prosecutions leading to significant penalties.

Below is a summary of a recent prosecution occurring in the State of Victoria (Australia) in which an inadequate risk assessment was performed.

The subsequent incident and prosecution resulted in penalties of over $110,000.

Background to the Incident

Fosterville Gold Mine Pty Ltd operates a mine in Victoria, Australia.

On the day of the incident, it was proposed to undertake an explosive blast which was unusual for the mine in a number of ways.

  • Firstly, it was to be bigger than usual blasts at the mine.
  • Secondly, it was to occur mid-shift which had not previously been done at the mine.
  • Thirdly, detonators which had not been used at the mine before were used and which needed special expertise.
  • Fourthly, the explosive charges were to be fired from the brow back into the ore body rather than the normal practice to fire in sequence from the ore body to the brow.


The Incident

After the blast had occurred, re-entry of workers to the underground mine was authorized without the air quality in the mine being properly tested.

Ten miners who returned to work underground were overcome by toxic carbon monoxide gas and collapsed.

The emergency response which followed was inadequate and exposed further workers to the toxic gas.

In total, 10 miners suffered carbon monoxide poisoning to various degrees.

The Prosecution

A Prosecution was brought against the Mine operators under the Victorian OHS Act (Sections 21(1) & 2a).

Specifically that the "employer failed to provide & maintain so far as was practicable for employees a safe working environment - plant & systems of work".

It was found that Fosterville failed to assess risk and plan for the hazards associated with the blast.

Too little attention was given to the effect of the blast on ventilation in the mine or re-entry procedures.

Not enough consideration was given to the risk created by toxic gases traveling to an area where work was being undertaken.

The Court found that the mine did not have a finalized management plan in place regarding ventilation following the blasting activity.

Nor was there a procedure whereby the mine ventilation system was regularly inspected and monitored.

The Company pleaded guilty to the allegations and was fined $110,000 plus $16,564 in court costs.

The lesson to learn here is that it is essential to assess risk associated with "management of change" (MOC).

Safe Work in High Ambient Temperatures

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More than 30 workers died from heat stroke whilst working in the United States in the summer months of 2010.

In response, OSHA today launched its summer outreach campaign to educate employers and employees about the dangers associated with working in high ambient temperatures.

The campaign focuses attention on the importance of appropriately scheduling work, providing shade, enforcing rest breaks and providing water which are the cornerstones of heat illness prevention.

High ambient temperatures are a concern for many industries but especially in mining and resources, forestry, farming, road repairs and civil construction.

Further information on the campaign can be found here.

WA Safety Report Paints Explosive Picture

Graham Marshall - Friday, April 22, 2011
The WA Department of Mines and Petroleum's 2010 dangerous goods incident report highlights a catalogue of disasters and close-calls.

Three people died while working on WA mines in 2010.

A further two people were seriously injured and several others hurt last year alongside dozens of life-threatening high-potential incidents.

The report tells of a total of 37 explosive accidents in 2010. 

These included:
  • A flash fire at a Rivervale petrol station;
  • An explosives trailer becoming uncoupled from its prime mover;
  • A find of 10kg of explosive ammonium nitrate at a landfill;
  • A spill of 10,000 litres of petrol into the Swan River in Nedlands; and
  • Police locating illegally dumped explosives from the Swan River in Bassendean.

The total number of serious incidents in 2010 was a record 64 and this number does not include hundreds of smaller incidents.

The Mines and Petroleum regulator puts the significant increase in explosives incident reports down to increased awareness of reporting responsibilities by mining companies.

MARCSTA Safety Induction

Graham Marshall - Friday, April 15, 2011

The MARCSTA induction provides essential OSH knowledge required to work in a range of industrial workplaces.

MARCSTA is a standardized, accredited induction program within the mining, resources and associated industry sectors.

Participants will gain an understanding of general safety principles applicable to all sites and then cover the site specific information during their employer induction process.

To find out more about MARCSTA, simply click here.

JSA for work on mobile plant

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Whether you're in mining, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, logistics or process operations, moving equipment in your location is inherently dangerous. 

That's why you need to have good quality Job Safety Analysis to manage the risk.

To visit our JSA for mobile plant, simply click here.

Manual Handling in Mining

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, February 01, 2011
We all know that manual handling jobs are a significant cause of relatively low consequence but high frequency incidents, costing individuals and organizations significant harm.

The consequences for workers harmed during manual handling tasks can be quite debilitating and depressing.

Anyone experiencing a bad back will know what I mean.

There is no need for me to re-invent the wheel here on manual handling.

Here's a link to a reasonable PowerPoint slideshow from the WA Department of Resources Safety that covers the main themes quite well.

Safety in Cold Climates

Graham Marshall - Friday, January 21, 2011
Although it's baking hot down here in Australia in mid-January, our friends in the Northern hemisphere are in the depths of mid-winter.

Having worked in these places, from North Dakota, to Norway and right across the top of the World to Sakhalin Island, I know it's freezing cold!

So today's simple "one per-center's" are aimed at managing work in cold climates:

  • Ensure you're trained and learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced injuries and illnesses;
  • Recognize conditions that lead to cold stress;
  • Plan to perform work in warmer part of day;
  • Shield the work area from weather factors (e.g., shade from wind);
  • Select proper clothing;
  • Wear warm head covering;
  • Wear layered clothing;
  • Protect feet and hands;
  • Pace yourself;
  • Take frequent breaks in a warm area;
  • Use a buddy work system;
  • Drink warm beverages; and
  • Eat warm, high calorie foods.

Rest assured, I'll be thinking about you all in the cold when drinking my G+T down by the Indian Ocean here in WA!

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