Common Mining Accidents & Risks To Avoid

Unlike many other industries, accidents in mining can have quite significant consequences for the safety of employees and the worksite itself. Even today, mining remains one of the riskiest industries to be employed in, with one of the highest rates of injuries and fatalities of any occupation in Australia. Due to the inherent hazards involved in mining, mining accidents unfortunately do happen.

Every year the mining industry and regulatory bodies spend countless time and money improving the safety for all personnel involved in mining. Through learning from and reviewing past mining accidents; improving protocols and standards; and developing practical technologies the mining industry has been making significant gains in hazard reduction. In fact, there has been a steady estimated decline in the number of fatalities in mining over the past couple of decades.

Education around the common types of mining accidents and risks mining employees face in Australia is one way to help promote hazard reduction in the mining industry. This article highlights some common mining accidents and risks and provides basic information to help employees stay informed and mitigate their hazard risks.

Mining Injury Statistics Australia

In the estimated period between 2007 to 2012 a total of 36 mining industry fatalities occurred in Australia. This represented a fatality incidence of approximately 4 deaths per 100,000 workers during this time period.

While the mining industry has a significantly higher than average fatality rate when compared to national occupational average, mining in Australia contributed to over 10% of the national economy in 2019-20 according to the ABS. This highlights how significant the need to reduce mining accidents and hazards is.

Fortunately, long-term data has shown that in the 12 year period leading up to 2015, the mining industry had managed to reduce fatalities by an impressive 65%. With consistently evolving safety improvements across mining it is hoped these reductions will continue.

Common Causes of Mining Accidents & Hazed Risks

Depending on what resource is being mined and the type of mine itself, the common types of mining accidents and risks can vary accordingly. Generally, the following hazards can occur as a result of mining operations:

Inhaled Airborne Particulates

This can include inhaled pollutants such as coal dust and silica that over time cause chronic severe respiratory illnesses in exposed personnel.

Industrial Noise

Inherent to all mining activities is exposure to loud noises. Whether through operations such as drilling or blasting, miners can suffer hearing problems as a result.

Body Stress Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders are extremely common in the mining industry due to the physical nature of handling heavy, vibrating equipment and manipulating various loads.

Stress & Exposure

Mining sites are physically demanding work environments, open cut mines can leave personnel exposed to UV radiation and underground mines can be extremely hot and humid. Taking steps to prevent overexposure and stress are critical to avoiding accidents and health consequences.

Mine Fires

A combination of trapped gases, oxygen, equipment and confined quarters can give rise to mine fires which can even have the potential to lead to dangerous explosions.

Equipment Related Accidents

From mining truck accidents to crush injuries and entanglements, mining machinery has the potential to cause serious harm when faulty or used improperly.

Unsafe Worksites

Ground failures, slips, trips, falling objects and debris are common occurrences at mining sites and can result in minor and major injuries and accidents.

Avoiding & Reduce Risk

One of the best ways to avoid mining accidents and reduce risk is to make sure that safety is a priority at your site. Following protocols, communicating risk, reporting hazards, formally assessing issues and involving all personnel in health and safety is paramount to maintaining a good workplace culture around safety.

Standards & Protocols

It is vital that employees are on the same page with performing work related tasks safely. Australia has recognised state and federal standards across a spectrum of work related mining activities. Every employee and employer should be familiar with these standards prior to undertaking a task. All employees should receive formal training for their roles and should have recognised competence in fulfilling their operations safely.

Reporting & Supervision

Ensuring all employees are aware of their responsibilities in reporting any safety hazards and documenting safety procedures and incidents is another way to maintain vigilance at a work site. This can help pre-empt mining accidents, mitigate their potential impacts and help prevent future hazards from arising all together. Good supervision of personnel can further reinforce the conduct of safety procedures.

Consultation & Communication

Make sure all issues regarding safety are freely and openly communicated at a worksite. Encourage and respect suggestions, investigate all issues, regularly conduct audits and make sure you stay up to date with the latest standards and developments.

Prioritising Safety To Reduce Risk

Mining is a vital part of the Australian industry landscape. Being informed on the common causes of mining accidents and hazards in mining is critical to reducing the risks involved. The ongoing development of safety procedures and technologies is steadily reducing many of the risks associated with mining; however it is critical that every work site is reinforced by a culture of safety.

Nivek Industries Makes Safety Our Priority

At Nivek Industries we promote workplace safety through our innovation and product development. Through the creation of products such as our Tracked Elevating Device (TED™) belly pan jack, we are removing vulnerable personnel from the line of fire. Learn more about how TED™ and our other equipments are minimising the risks involved in the mining industry.

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