Anda di halaman 1dari 61

As our coal industry moves into another boom

period for the resources sector – one issue is


paramount, and that is maintaining the health
and safety of our coal mine workers.
With the ever present reminder from the
media that no job is safe, our coal mine
workers thoughts are (understandably) not
100% on the job and now more than ever is
the time for all to be truly vigilant and to look
after your workmates.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999
coal mine worker means an individual who
carries out work at a coal mine and includes
the following individuals who carry out work
at a coal mine—
(a) an employee of the coal mine operator;
(b) a contractor or employee of a contractor.
Since the inception of risk based
legislation (1999-2001) risk management
has been the instrument widely used and
often abused by the coal owners’
representatives in an effort to
expediently get the job done with
minimal regards to the risk management
requirements of our legislation, and
more importantly the safety of our coal
mine workers.
More and more, mining management teams
are referring to other State and Federal OHS
laws with legal counsel as a stand points on
safety protocols regardless of the legislation
that governs our coal industry. This being the
Queensland Coal Mining Safety and Health Act
1999 & the Queensland Coal Mining Safety
and Regulation 2001. This has led to complex
and conflicting management systems being
developed and not adequately maintained.
To clarify any misunderstanding, the term
“management” encompasses those who
control and or give directions to coal mine
workers, for example; Supervisors, Open-Cut
Examiners, ERZ Controllers, Shift Supervisors,
Ventilation Officers, Mine Managers and Site
Senior Executives. All of whom make up part
of the mine management structure and have
the relevant competencies that permit them
to legally give direction and supervision.
We must never forget that the coal mining
safety and health legislation that we, in the
coal mining industry all must adhere to is
written on the blood of our fallen comrades
that have either been made incapacitated or
have lost their lives due to being exposed to
unsafe conditions that left them vulnerable to
the risks without adequate controls in place to
either remove or minimise the exposure to
the hazard.
Risk Assessments have become the catch
cry of the day, with acronyms such as
JSA’s, JSEA’s, SLAM’s, HIT’s, Take 5’s,
WRAC’s etc... These are all useful tools in
risk assessment, but only the initial
exercise in the process of ensuring an
acceptable level of risk is achieved.
How is the coal mine worker expected to
perform or understand his or her task safely, if
given to read and sign a risk assessment pro-
forma that does not outline the steps required
to perform the task safely, when the end
game after the risk assessment is to develop
an easy to understand work procedure with
identified existing and additional controls in
place?
The majority of coal mine
workers’ openly state that risk
assessments are only performed
to permit a risky task to proceed
with the onus of risk mitigation
placed squarely at the feet of the
coal mine worker.
A case in point was a mining company that
required the removal of product from an open-
cut operation. This operation was to be
performed adjacent to a known strata faulting
(being the failing high-wall). A JSA was
performed, hazards identified and soft controls
put in place. Unfortunately, the controls were
inadequate to the extreme. These being “keep
close watch on the high-wall whilst operating
under it and move away if rocks start to fall”.
The mines management had previously
identified this area as unstable, the mine’s
geologists had advised to cease operations in
this pit and had gone so far as to equate the
amount of material that would fall. Despite
these dire concerns, coal mine workers were
directed by their supervisors to work this area
as “a JSA had been done”.
The inevitable fall of earth occurred and
approximately 30,000 tonne dislodged and fell
onto a rear-dump truck trapping the coal mine
worker (who could be your Husband, Father,
Son, Brother, Uncle, Cousin or Mate) and
leaving him with a permanent metal rod in his
back to replace his broken spine - not the way
he would have intended to come home from
work!
In the foyer of any coal mine and their
corporate offices, there is the obligatory
safety and health policy. Inevitably,
these policies all profess the same
motherhood statements with one
invariably stating; compliance with
relevant legislation is paramount to the
operation.
How can this be when we have
numerous accidents and
incidents occurring daily at our
coal mines? Are the policies
just wall coverings? You would
like to think not.
If these corporate safety and health
policies are to legally state the
intentions and beliefs of mining
companies then, the coal mining
safety and health legislation also
requires to be read and understood
if compliance is to occur.
One main requirement is the objects of the Act
being;
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999
The objects of this Act are—
(a) To protect the safety and health of persons at
coal mines and persons who may be affected by
coal mining operations; and
(b) To require that the risk of injury or illness to any
person resulting from coal mining operations be
at an acceptable level.
This is done through the identification of
hazards and the controlling of risks involved in
every mining operation. A colleague of mine
once said;
“the hazard is the shark in the
swimming pool – the risk is
swimming with it”
The coal industry is very apt at identifying
hazards and consequences, but not very good
at ensuring the identified controls to obtain
an acceptable level of risk are in place prior to
the start of the task. Numerous risk
assessments are performed and (in some
cases) work procedures developed from the
outcomes of the risk assessments.
Once written they identify the additional
controls that are required to be in place
prior to the start of any mining operation
to achieve an acceptable level of risk,
these could include communication,
additional training, guarding, isolation,
barriers or gas levels etc...
Once written and made part of the safety
and health management system they
become a statute of law. In other words,
did you do what you said (in black and
white) you were going to do?
Unfortunately, this is just not the case in
numerous operations and accidents and
incidents continue to occur.
This leads to (in some cases) the issuance of
safety alerts, so as the rest of the mining
industry is aware and is given the opportunity
to be pro-active in ensuring a similar incident
at their operation does not occur. This is not
the case in reality though; reoccurrence of
similar incidents continues to occur at an
alarming rate.
This is on top of the current mining boom that
required additional management personal to
be placed in areas of operation with little to
no training given, just a desired outcome.
With this and combined with the loss of
corporate memory at well established mining
operations, has led to mismanagement of coal
mine workers safety.
Change Management or Management of Change?
In some cases the slightest change to performing
a routine task can have catastrophic results if not
identified and managed correctly. The legislation
requires that all mines manage any change in
their mining operation with assessment of what
the change may have on the task in relation to its
health and safety obligations to all coal mine
workers.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999
62 Safety and health management system
(3) The safety and health management system
must be adequate and effective to achieve an
acceptable level of risk by—
(g) if there is a significant change to the coal
mining operations of the coal mine—containing a
plan to immediately review the safety and health
management system so that risk to persons is at
an acceptable level.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999
64 Review of principal hazard management plans and standard operating
procedures
(1) This section applies if—
(a) a safety and health management system has been developed for a new coal mine; or
(b) it is proposed to change a safety and health management system at an
existing coal mine.
(2) The site senior executive must review the principal hazard
management plans and standard operating procedures in
consultation with coal mine workers affected by the plans
and operating procedures.
(3) The review under subsection (2) must take place—
(a) for a new coal mine—as soon as practicable after the start of coal mining operations; or

(b) for a change at an existing coal mine—before the change


happens.
A case in point that recently occurred with
regards to the failure of change being managed
and legislative requirements being met, was at an
underground coal mine in central Queensland.
The mine had identified that their gas analyser
was in need of an upgrade, so a job order was
placed to have an external agency come to the
mine to perform the upgrade. This upgrade
would mean that the tube bundle gas analyser
would be out of commission for at least 48hrs.
The mine did not identify that this was a
significant change to the mining
operation and had not developed a
contingency plan to deal with the
outage.
This is despite the legislative minimum
requirements that all sealed areas must
be monitored.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001
223 Monitoring and sampling mine
atmosphere
(1A) The safety and health management system
must also provide for sampling of the mine
atmosphere, using the mine’s gas monitoring
system, at each of the following places—
(a) The return airway from each unsealed waste,
idle workings and goaf area;
The end result (after a directive was issued by
the Industry Safety and Health Representative
to ensure an acceptable level of risk was
achieved) was that men were withdrawn from
the mine till a sampling regime was put in
place to comply with not only legislation but
also the mines principal hazard management
plan for spontaneous combustion.
It is the mismanagement of these serious safety
events as briefly described in both
aforementioned cases of legislative breaches that
have the ever present potential to continually
cause injuries and or multiple fatalities. It does
not require Nirvana for the minimum
requirements to ensure that the safety and
health of our coal mine workers is to be met.
Simply put, there is a prescribed and well proven
way of achieving these minimums and the
industry, as a whole, is just not consistently
making the grade.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001
Part 2 Safety and health management system
6 Basic elements
A coal mine’s safety and health management system
must provide for the following basic elements—
(a) risk identification and assessment;
(b) hazard analysis;
(c) hazard management and control;
(d) reporting and recording relevant safety and health
information and data.
There are often two main areas that are
contributively linked to the failures
investigated, both of them being
controllable and yet many times ignored.
These being the lack of communication
and the involvement by those that are
required to perform and or affected by
the task.
Step by step the coal mining safety
and health legislation and associated
standards spell out the requirements
that (as a minimum) are to be
achieved in developing a procedure
to safely perform a task.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999
14 Meaning of standard operating procedure
A standard operating procedure at a coal mine is
a documented way of working,
or an arrangement of facilities, at the coal
mine to achieve an acceptable level of risk,
developed after consultation with coal mine
workers.
Firstly, identify the hazards in the task
required to be accomplished and the
impact the task may have on other areas
of the operation. This is the risk
assessment stage, to be performed with
no preconceived outcomes and by an
independent thinking facilitator.
The end of this stage
does not imply the
task can be begin
Secondly, the involvement of those
who will be required to perform the
task along with technical support
from their respective coal mine
management and or external
assistance.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999
13 Meaning of consultation
Consultation with coal mine workers is
discussion between the site senior
executive or supervisors and affected
coal mine workers about a matter with
the aim of reaching agreement about the
matter.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001

Standard operating procedures


10 Developing standard operating procedures
(1) The site senior executive must ensure the following steps
are taken in developing standard operating procedures for
managing and controlling hazards at the mine—
(a) the site senior executive must consult with a cross-section
of the mine’s coal mine workers involved in carrying out a
task under the proposed standard operating procedure to
identify the hazards associated with the task and ways of
controlling the hazards;
Once the hazards involved in the task have been
identified, then the assessment process takes into
account the existing controls in place at the mine to
classify the risk through the ranking process.

Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999


18 Meaning of risk
(1) Risk means the risk of injury or illness to a person
arising out of a hazard.
(2) Risk is measured in terms of consequences and
likelihood.
The end of this stage
does not imply the
task can be begin
Now that the assessment process has
identified the level of risk in performing the
task, perseverance must be given to achieving
the “ALARA” principle, being As Low As
Reasonably Achievable. Emphasis being on
achievable (and acceptable) to the coal mine
workers that are required to perform the
desired task safety.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999
29 What is an acceptable level of risk
(1) For risk to a person from coal mining operations to be at
an acceptable level, the operations must be carried out so
that the level of risk from the operations is—
(a) within acceptable limits; and
(b) as low as reasonably achievable.
(2) To decide whether risk is within acceptable limits and as
low as reasonably achievable regard must be had to—
(a) the likelihood of injury or illness to a person arising out of
the risk; and
(b) the severity of the injury or illness.
Some tasks require additional
controls to be put in place to ensure
an acceptable level of risk, these
additional controls are then added to
the assessment and the task re-
ranked to make certain that ALARA
has been achieved.
The end of this stage
does not imply the
task can be begin
From the identified controls and the required additional
controls, a procedure can then be drafted.

Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001


Standard operating procedures
10 Developing standard operating procedures
(1) The site senior executive must ensure the following steps
are taken in developing standard operating procedures for
managing and controlling hazards at the mine—
(b) the site senior executive must prepare a draft standard
operating procedure and give a copy of it to the coal mine
workers with whom the site senior executive consulted;
During this period, the additional controls
must be assigned to a responsible person to
make certain they are implemented prior to
the commencement of the task. Not, as in
many cases just ink on a page. These
additional controls could be as simple as
limiting access or extra roof support. Once the
draft procedure is written then the following
legislative requirements apply.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001
Standard operating procedures
10 Developing standard operating procedures
(c) if the coal mine workers agree with the draft standard operating
procedure, the site senior executive must prepare it as the final
standard operating procedure;
(d) if the coal mine workers do not agree with the draft standard
operating procedure—
(i) for a disagreement that is not about a legal or technical matter—the
site senior executive must decide the disagreed matter and prepare
the final standard operating procedure; or
(ii) for a disagreement that is about a legal or technical matter—the
site senior executive must—
(A) obtain further information or advice, including, for
example, from a person having the necessary qualifications
and experience to give the advice or from a recognised text
on the matter; and
(B) after consulting with the workers about the information or
advice, prepare a further draft standard operating
procedure and give a copy of it to the workers; and
(C) if the workers disagree with the further draft—decide the
disagreed matter and prepare the final standard operating
procedure;
(e) the site senior executive must include the final standard
operating procedure in the mine’s safety and health
management system.
(2) The site senior executive must ensure—
(a) the final standard operating procedure accords with—
(i) all matters agreed, under this section, between the site
senior executive and coal mine workers; and
(ii) the site senior executive’s decision, under this section,
on any disagreed matters; and
(b) a record is kept of the disagreed matters.
(3) In developing the standard operating procedure, the
site senior
executive must—
(a) use a risk assessment process recognised by the
mining industry as an acceptable process for
identifying and controlling hazards; and
(b) have regard to the methods of controlling the
hazard stated in the database kept by the chief
executive under section 280(1)(a)(i) of the Act.
(4) If, at the commencement of this section, the
mine has a standard operating procedure for
managing and controlling a particular hazard at
the mine.
Arguments proliferate regarding the intent of
the legislation with regards to the
development of standard operating
procedures. The renaming of work procedures
such to a mine operating procedure (MOP) is
one of the current miscreant acts being
performed by mining management in a vain
attempt to abrogate their legal obligations
and the involvement of affected coal mine
workers.
A work procedure is to be an easy to
understand, accessible and documented way
of working, developed after consultation with
the affected coal mine workers regardless of
what title it is given, be it a JSA, JSEA, SLAM,
HIT, Take 5, WRAC or a Box of Frogs etc..., and
is subject to the legislative requirements prior
to being implemented as part of the mines
safety and health management system.
Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999

32 Cooperation to achieve objects of Act


(1) This Act seeks to achieve cooperation between coal operators, site
senior executives and coal workers to achieve the objects of the Act.
(2) Cooperation is an important strategy in achieving the objects of the
Act and is achieved—
(a) at an industry level by—
(i) the establishment of the coal mining safety and health advisory
council under part 6; and
(ii) the appointment of industry safety and health representatives
under part 8; and
(b) at coal mine level by—
(i) the election of site safety and health representatives under part 7;
and
(ii) the process of involving coal mine workers in the management of
risk.
Corporate and senior coal mining
management espouse that their
operations aim for implausible
targets such as “Zero Harm”, “A safe
workplace that is injury and fatality
free” or “Target Zero”.
Implausible due to constant non compliance
to not only the coal mining safety and health
legislation but also their corporate charters,
health, safety & environment policies and the
mine’s safety and health management
system. Only through trust, communication,
training, involvement and consistency at all
levels of the business can mining operations
attempt to reach these goals.
Consequently, as the coal industry
progresses into a new year of economic
uncertainty – safety must maintain its
economic viability. History has shown
that when the profits are being eaten
into, spending on safety is one of the first
to suffer cost cuts under the guise of
returns for the share holder.
I for one have not seen many share holders
working at the coal face, the real share holders
are the men and women who mine Queensland
coal.

It is these people that rightly deserve to expect


that they will return home each working shift in
the same physical and psychological condition
that they arrived to work that shift.