Inexperience of worker and supervisor contributes to death

Inexperienced workers and inexperienced supervision are the main contributing factors to mining industry deaths, a recently released report has shown.

Looking at the years 2000 to 2012, the study into fatal accidents in the Western Australian mining industry was conducted by the state Department of Mines and Petroleum.

During that period there were 52 fatal mining accidents, including two deaths in the exploration sector, 17 deaths underground, and a further 33 deaths on the surface.

On average almost one third of fatalities occurred during the first year of a worker’s experience in their role, and 48 per cent of fatalities occurring in the first two years combined.

It was also shown that regardless of experience in a given role, there was also a correlation with length of time at a particular mine site, and it was found that 49 per cent of fatalities occurred within a worker’s first year on a given site, and six per cent of the fatalities occurred within the worker’s first week at a given mine site.

The other major factor involved the experience of the supervisor of deceased workers,  as 44 per cent of fatalities occurred in cases where the supervisor had less than one year of experience in that role.

The demographic of supervisors in their first week in the role accounted for an astounding six per cent of fatalities overall.

The top four workplace situations related to a cause of death were situations where a hazard was not identified (seven deaths), unsafe equipment and/or procedure (six deaths), inadequate training or monitoring (four deaths) and fall hazards that weren’t identified or where a harness was not properly equipped (four deaths).

2012 was the first year in over a century of history in the WA that there were no work-related deaths in the mining industry.

The statistical analysis did not take into account deaths that occured duriing 2013/14, however it did acknowledge in notes three deaths in 2013 and one in February 2014.

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