Citigold runs Australia’s richest major gold field, the Charters Towers gold project in Queensland, and Towsey said: “If you look at the personalities of mine workers, you find they are generally not at all risk averse.”
“Given this kind of attitude, it is management’s responsibility to ensure there is a psychological focus in mine safety programs.”
Towsey said many mine safety programs tend to focus on technical systems, and many managers treat mining safety as a “project” to be delivered on time and within budget.
“However, mine safety is a never-ending process of continuous improvement, and companies need to move away from mechanical systems to psychological processes,” he said.
But luckily, Towsey said research has shown that generally after the age of 25, when male mine workers are perhaps getting married or having children, their attitudes to risk changes.
“They tend to then take into the workplace a more risk-averse attitude – one they have developed in caring for their family. We need to promote this attitude of looking after others in the workplace.
“Women also tend to be risk averse. Unfortunately, the mining industry is 80% dominated by males. Even in the general working population, a higher proportion of men (per thousand workers) are injured at work than women.”
Towsey is a key speaker at MineHaul 2007, to be held in Perth on March 26-28. He will speak on Safe People: How Personality Plays a Part in Individual and Organisational Safety.