The Queensland Department of Mines and Energy (DME) has issued an urgent safety alert to mines and quarries that have not reviewed procedures for adverse weather events.
Recently, two mine workers suffered serious injuries when the crib hut in which they had been sheltering was blown over in high winds.
According to the DME’s Chief Inspector of Mines Roger Billingham, and Chief Inspector of Coal Mines Gavin Taylor, investigations are still ongoing but it would appear the men were struck by part of the awning attached to the hut and other loose debris.
According to the Inspector of Mines, this warrants a timely reminder of the inherent dangers of extreme weather events.
On 23 March 2007, following cyclonic weather in Western Australia and the first anniversary of cyclone Larry in North Queensland, the DME posted news update Security of Mine and Quarry Workers During Extreme Weather Events, warning mines and quarries to address emergency procedures.
According to Billingham and Taylor, in the approach of such an event, mines should take action, including possible evacuation from the site or retreat to safe locations such as cyclone proof buildings constructed in accordance with local government requirements or similar places of refuge.
According to the DME, other aspects of extreme weather, during major storms in November, included several incidents of damage and flooding from collapsed or overflowing levees and dams, including mine dams.
Continuing incidences of dam failures highlight the need for minesite dam safety to be thoroughly addressed in the site’s Safety and Health Management System, according to the Inspector of Mines.