Hogsback on safety

HOGSBACK reckons it is about time coal miners took safety beyond the “tick and flick” stage and actually started to believe in it.
 Hogsback on safety  Hogsback on safety  Hogsback on safety  Hogsback on safety  Hogsback on safety
The industry's emphasis on production at all costs has led to the unfortunate tendency of some mines to pay cursory attention to safety and skate through by merely adhering to statutory obligations.
 
As all the experts will tell you, safety awareness has to be part of the culture of the organisation if it is to be meaningful and effective in saving lives and avoiding serious injuries.
 
In New South Wales the Resources Regulator has recently noticed an alarming increase in the number of incidents where failure to communicate properly between mobile plant operators has caused near misses that could have developed into full blown catastrophes. 
 
In one of the incidents, a collision occurred when a loaded haul truck attempted to pass a stationary grader. 
 
The haul truck operator approached the grader believing he had received instruction to proceed.
 
No instruction by the grader operator was given to this effect nor was verification from the haul truck operator recorded on the radio communication recordings. 
 
No injuries were reported, however, heavy damage was caused to each machine, including a burst tyre.
 
"It is recommended that all mines should identify and assess all areas where mobile plant interaction occurs and develop, review and update procedures that manage the interaction of all mobile plant operating on site, including requirements for proximity detection and positive communication," the NSW Resources Regulator said.
 
"Train workers in the contents and application of site positive communication procedures and have systems in place for supervisors to monitor compliance with site positive communication procedures."
 
One would think that this advice by the regulator is common sense, however, when a strong and proactive safety culture does not exist, reason and logic go out the window and a dangerous fallback on expediency reigns.
 
A good example of how culture can change safety and health outcomes is the "Bounce program" at the Newcastle Infrastructure Group, which won last year's NSW Minerals Council Health, Safety, Environment and Community Conference Excellence Award.
 
NCIG introduced the Bounce Health and Wellbeing Program to positively impact the health and welfare of its employees, contractors and their families by managing safety risk together with overall productivity of the NCIG workforce. 
 
The program incorporates assessment, prevention and treatment strategies. 
 
However, the key element that sets this program apart is setting health initiatives based on ongoing identified workforce health risks and needs. 
 
Annual themes have included weight loss, improvement to body mass index, increasing functioning movement, improved nutrition and increasing fitness and movement.
 
Hogsback reckons this is a very worthy model for how the industry should proceed to tackle the issues of health and safety - not as a bureaucratic task performed in a vacuum but as part of each employee's work and home life.