Coal still laggard of NSW mining safety

NEW South Wales’ mining industry safety figures are improving but much of this has been in the metals sector and coal mining has a long way to go to reach its goal of zero harm.
Coal still laggard of NSW mining safety Coal still laggard of NSW mining safety Coal still laggard of NSW mining safety Coal still laggard of NSW mining safety Coal still laggard of NSW mining safety

Taking part in a Level One Emergency Exercise.

Lou Caruana

The latest mine safety figures for NSW show no fatalities in the past 12 months but there needs to be a “step change” to address health and safety in the coal mining industry, NSW Minerals Council deputy chief executive Sue-Ern Tan said.

Serious body injuries in the underground coal mining sector increased from 22 in 2008-09 to 24 in 2009-10 and in open cut coal mining from six in 2008-09 to eight in 2009-10.

“It is pleasing to be able to report no fatalities in the past 12 months,” Tan said.

“It is also worth noting that our metals sector has been fatality-free for three years and there hasn’t been a death at a metals surface operation for 16 years. But we must continue to strive to do better.

“The minerals industry has a goal of zero harm. That is why it is important to recognise the tremendous work being done across the industry that will help us learn, improve our performance and achieve a world-leading OHS culture, which is the next frontier for a ‘step change’ in health and safety.

“There is nothing more important than the health and wellbeing of our workforce. It will always be our number one priority.”

The statistics are being released this morning at the NSW Minerals Council’s annual OHS Forum in Dubbo, where around 100 miners and health and safety professionals will hear from speakers on how to “crack the code” for communicating safety.

Preliminary data shows lost-time injury frequency rates are down for the third year running, from 13.2 in 2006-07 to 6.92 in 2009-10.

The number of serious injuries also continued a decade-long downward trend from 55 in 1999-2000 to 40 in 2009-10.

The forum theme is Communicating Safety: Cracking the Code. It will focus the industry on how it talks about risks, controls, consultation, how leaders get their message out, how employees express their views and how to improve the industry’s safety culture.

“A big part of these forums is telling the story about mining and our OHS innovations. Our annual awards are so successful that we have created a new category specifically for the metals sector at the Dubbo forum to highlight the advances being made at mines across the state’s west,” Tan said.

Major General Jim Molan, deployed to Iraq as the coalition’s chief of operations in 2004, will speak at the forum about leadership, organisational behaviour and management in extreme situations.