National Plant & Equipment
1300 794 448
Home Rental About News Careers Contact
Click on the icon on equipment to add them to your favourites

Mining Health & Safety

11 June 2023

Within the thriving mining industry of Australia, safety stands as an essential pillar with profound implications for all individuals involved. While the industry offers great opportunities, it also emphasises the need for precaution.

Below, we will traverse through the industry’s challenges, scrutinise the best safety practices and explore the innovative strategies shaping the future of mining health and safety. Let’s dive right in.

The hidden dangers — recognising and mitigating risks

Pursuing valuable resources takes us deep underground or high into open pits, where the environment is as harsh as it is unpredictable. Every miner, engineer and geologist working in the field is intimately aware of the hazards that come with the territory; hence conversations about mining health and safety are paramount. In a bid to better understand and mitigate these risks, trials have been conducted in Australian mines, leading experts to identify the top five risks:

  1. Mobile equipment interactions — Mining operations are dependent on the use of heavy machinery. These machines’ size, complexity and sheer power mean they can present significant hazards. Mishandling, malfunctions or miscommunications can lead to incidents, particularly if operators are not adequately trained or safety protocols are not strictly followed.
  1. Fall from heights/into depth — The nature of mining means that work often happens at altitudes or in deep excavations. Whether on the edge of an open pit or deep within an underground passage, the risk of falls is a persistent hazard that must be managed with utmost care.
  1. Falling and dropped objects — This risk is two-fold. First, there are naturally occurring hazards — rock falls or ground failures that can send debris tumbling. Second, there’s the risk of human error, leading to dropped tools or equipment. Both scenarios can have severe consequences, especially in crowded sites.
  1. Ground failure/rockfall — Mines, by their very nature, are places where the ground has been disturbed. This disturbance can lead to ground failure, including landslides, rockfalls and collapses. These incidents can be catastrophic, particularly in underground mines with limited escape routes.
  1. Tyres and rims — This may seem less noticeable than the others, but incidents related to the tyres and rims of heavy machinery can also present serious risks. These can include explosions during inflation, accidents during mounting or dismounting operations and even incidents where vehicles become unstable due to tyre failure.

Remarkably, by addressing these top five risks, we can mitigate approximately 80% of the catastrophic risk profile in mines​​. This points to a clear path forward: by understanding, prioritising and tackling these risks head-on, we can make significant strides in improving safety in mining.

Innovation at the forefront — technological advances in mining safety

When it comes to mining health and safety, technology plays a transformative role. With the advent of cutting-edge equipment, the paradigm of safety in mining is constantly being redefined, pushing the boundaries of what we thought was possible in mitigating risk and enhancing safety outcomes.

Among these innovations, automated and remote-controlled equipment is perhaps the most notable today. By reducing human involvement in the most dangerous tasks, these machines significantly lower the risk of workplace injuries and fatalities. Similarly, wearable technology — such as smart helmets equipped with sensors — provides real-time monitoring of workers’ health and environmental conditions, enabling swift responses to threats.

Drones are another technological breakthrough in mining safety. Used for surveying, inspection and emergencies, drones contribute to a safer and more efficient operational environment. Additionally, AI and machine learning advancements provide predictive capabilities, identifying potential risks before they become hazards.

The role of digital twin technology also deserves a mention. Creating virtual replicas of physical assets allows for safer testing and predictive maintenance, contributing to an overall reduction of risks.

The human element — fostering a culture of safety in mining

Establishing a culture that emphasises safety is not just an obligation but a vital investment for any mining organisation. It isn’t simply a regulatory checklist either — it’s an operational approach that protects lives, enhances productivity and promotes a positive work environment.

Building a safety-first culture within a mining organisation starts with leadership. Leaders should not only enforce safety regulations but also model safe behaviours, showing a commitment that resonates throughout the workforce. This commitment is deepened by continuous safety training, ensuring every worker has the knowledge and skills to anticipate risks and respond effectively to potential hazards.

Furthermore, worker participation in safety matters is crucial. Workers on the ground often have firsthand knowledge of potential safety issues that might go unnoticed by management. By encouraging an open dialogue and active participation, mining organisations can tap into this invaluable resource — improving the operation’s physical and psychological safety conditions.

In the end, fostering a culture of mining health and safety is a multifaceted process. It’s a substantial undertaking, but the rewards — improved safety, increased productivity and enhanced worker morale — are undoubtedly worth the effort.

Reimagining safety — a new era for the Australian mining industry

As we chart the course forward in mining health and safety, we must not lose sight of the immense potential for improvement within our human and technological resources. These are not mere aspirations but concrete, achievable goals. We are at a juncture where significant strides can and are being made, but the journey towards maximum safety and efficiency in mining is a relentless pursuit. 

After all, mining is an enterprise where the power of human endeavour meets the uncompromising realities of the natural world.

Embrace the future of mining safety with National Plant & Equipment

For an organisation to seriously venture towards mining health and safety, it’s vital to collaborate with partners who can effectively navigate and harness the potential of these progressive changes. National Plant & Equipment (NPE), an Australian-owned company with a history dating back to 1997, stands as such a partner, uniquely positioned to help in your mining operations.
With a reputation built on reliability and expertise, NPE is steadfast in its commitment to empowering the mining sector’s journey towards a safer and more efficient future. By collaborating with us, you are not only investing in top-tier equipment but also in a partnership that prioritises protection, innovation and efficiency. Discover how NPE’s range of services and equipment can elevate your standards and future-proof your operations. Contact us today.

Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share via Email