Mines set to swelter

West Australian mines are facing the heat this week, with temperatures predicted to edge close to 50 degrees Celsius.

Newcrest Telfer gold miners are facing around 46 degrees, while operations in the Pilbara are facing temperatures just above 40 degrees, according to AAP.

Last year workers at Rio Tinto’s Mesa A mine, near Pannawonica, faced 50 degrees Celsius.

At the time mine operations manager Wayne Zarb described conditions as “baking” but conceded the unofficial board may not be “calibrated that well”.

"But at the end of the day look it's the Pilbara, it's summer, 45 degrees is the norm,” he said.

"It might be plus a couple, it might be minus a couple, it's hard to pick the difference."

Zarb said work at the site was continuing as normal but employees were encouraged to take regular water breaks and look out for one another.

On the east coast, Rio Tinto has previously carried out ‘hydration mornings’, putting posters around the facility and information sheets in the loo to remind workers of the importance of keeping hydrated in the heat.

Yarwun health and safety manager at the time, Bob Peake, said November to March was a high-risk period at the plant.  

"In the past we have experienced a higher level of injuries because people are distracted or less focused due to the heat and humidity," Peake said.

"We assist team members by conducting hydration testing, so they can measure their own levels of hydration and link this to their symptoms and then self-manage."

Dizzy spells, headaches and nausea are some of the signs of dehydration, which can quickly turn into heat stroke and Peake says it can creep up on workers very quickly.

"Two or three of our people have had medical issues on shift and we discovered they were seriously dehydrated,” Peake said.

"We've attempted to raise the profile of heat stress and hydration levels and remove apprehensions of talking about it”

In 2013 a sub-contractor at a Santos site outside of Roma, QLD died from heatstroke, at the time prompting union concerns of workers forced to operate in potentially dangerous heat conditions.


*As the temperature rises, Australian Mining advises all workers to watch for the signs of heat stroke and dehydration. Click here for tips to keep you and your workers safe in the heat.



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