Mine fatigue crackdown

A Queensland coroners report has called for sweeping changes in how the mining industry handles fatigue.

Central QLD coroner Annette Hennessy made 24 recommendations for the industry following her investigation into two separate fatal road accidents.

Hennessy stated that driver fatigue was a potential factor in both incidents where coal miners were driving home following work, one at Yeppoon in 2005 and the other in Dysart in 2007.

However, she did state that bad weather was the major contributor to the Yeppoon incident.

She recommended increased measures to identify fatigue both on site and on the road, and that guidelines should take commuting time into mine fatigue management.

The coroner also called for an increase in police resources in the Bowen Basin.

According to a study published in 2007 by Caterpillar Global Mining, Viewpoint, perspectives on modern mining, up to 65% of truck haulage accidents in surface mining operations are directly related to operator fatigue.

Commenting on her recommendations, Queensland Resource Council (QRC) chief Michael Roche stated that the QRC has been working on a guidance note on fatigue with the Queensland Mines Inspectorate and mining unions.

“We will carefully consider all the recommendations made by the coroner to see what more we can practically do to improve the safety of employees as the travel to and from their workplace,” Roche said.

These recommendations follow the release of the safety performance statistics for the QLD mining industry, which recorded an overall drop in injury rates and time lost due to injury.

Roche said that “safety is the top priority of QRC members, who have a goal of zero harm,” adding that many mines now provide buses to and from mine sites.

Great strides have been made in the mining industry in fatigue monitoring technology, such as the OptAlert glasses which measure fatigue rates by the levels of eye movement.

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