In every mining business it’s essential to maintain a safe workplace to protect the health of safety of your employees and the business.

The very nature of mining means accidents are likely to occur especially without strict safety procedures. If employees don’t feel safe in their workplace the risk of accidents will increase and productivity will be lower.

Accidents and an unsafe workplace could cost your business millions in compensation premiums, lawsuits, loss of productivity, wasted time on internal investigations or the loss of an experienced worker.

On 1 January 2012 new work health and safety laws were introduced in New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory. This legislation aimed to harmonise each state’s work health and safety laws but also included many new changes to safety procedures to help businesses further protect the health and safety of employees.

It is vital your business is implementing the correct work health safety (WHS) procedures to ensure a safer, happier and productive workplace.

The following tips and regulations from the WHS can help you improve the safety of your workplace.

Management of hazardous materials
Hazardous chemicals can be extremely dangerous to workers and the environment due to fire, explosion, reaction or release. These chemicals can have a direct effect on the health of your workers through inhalation, skin contact or ingestion. This can result in skin irritation, genetic damage, chemical burns, asthma or even cancer. It’s therefore important to ensure all hazardous chemicals are labelled, handled and stored correctly according to schedule nine of the WHS regulations.

A correctly labelled chemical should have the following information:

  • Be written in English
  • The product identifier
  • The name, Australian address and business telephone number of the manufacturer or importer
  • The identity and proportion disclosed
  • Any hazard pictogram consistent with the correct classifications of the chemical
  • Any hazard statement consistent with the correct classification of the chemical
  • Any information about the first aid and emergency procedures relevant to the chemical
  • The expiry date.

Implement an emergency plan
Sometimes accidents do happen, which is why it’s essential for your business to have an emergency plan for the workplace. This will help you prepare for any potential emergencies such as a fire, explosion, medical, emergency rescues or incidents with hazardous chemicals. An emergency plan should be tailored to your business and provide detailed easy to understand instructions. This plan should include:

  • How to respond to an emergency
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Notifying emergency services as soon as possible
  • Medical treatment and assistance
  • Effective communication between the authorised emergency response employee and all employees in the workplace
  • Testing of emergency procedures
  • Employee training and instructions on how to implement the emergency procedures for workers.

Fall prevention
When workers are required to conduct work at a height it is important to prevent the risk of injury through falls. Workers must try to work on the ground or on a solid construction. If this is not accessible then the adequate protection must be provided such as fall prevention devices, work position system or a fall arrest system. These can include constructing a covered pedestrian walkway under the work site. Any loose tools or materials that could potentially fall on other people should be tethered or secured. All tools and excess materials should be cleared away straight after use and not placed near the edge of the platform.

Slip prevention
Slips and trips are a common workplace hazard that can easily be reduced. You should conduct an assessment of your workplace to identify any potential slip or trip hazards such as spilt liquid, wet cleaning methods, changes in floor surfaces, sandy surfaces, slopping surfaces, badly lit areas, cables, cracks in the floor and more.

The next step in slip prevention is to eliminate the hazard such as filling up any cracks or holes in the floor or installing more power points to reduce stray cables. You should also replace slippery surfaces or ramps with a non-slip surface. For any high risk areas such as wet floors while cleaning you should restrict access to this area.

Assess and review your safety procedures
Managing work health and safety is an ongoing process that should form part of the way you do business. You should continually assess and review your safety procedures to ensure they are working effectively and comply with the WHS legislation.

As a business it’s your duty of care to take all steps possible to reduce the risks to your employees’ health and safety. By implementing the correct safety procedures you can greatly reduce the risk of injuries in your workplace. This will keep your workers happier, safer and more productive while also ensuring the productivity of your business.