New risk management program improves mine site safety

University of Queensland (UQ) researchers together with the coal industry have developed an online knowledge database for the management of mine site risks.

“The database we have developed is the most comprehensive in Australia. There has been input from Australia's six largest coal companies and I am confident it will lead to fewer incidents,” UQ associate professor and project manager Philipp Kirsch said.

The program, aptly named RISKGATE enables coal industry personnel to better manage risk within the sector through developing a comprehensive understanding of incidents with information on event-specific controls.

“Australian coal companies focus significant resources in managing risk. With RISKGATE, you will have the ability to bring the industries current knowledge into the room when you do a risk assessment,” Tony Egan from Xstrata Coal said on behalf of the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP).

The program’s developers from UQ's Sustainable Minerals Institute have applied the Bow Tie Analysis (BTA) system to communicate risk and consequences through simple diagrams.

This method improves control identification and enables miners to better consider a whole range of causes and consequences for selected activities.

“At the start of this project, the coal industry identified 12 key target areas. Through our work, the project has expanded to target at least 17 areas of major risk to the industry,” Kirsch said.

Currently the program documents eleven high risk areas including tyres and rims, isolation, collisions, strata control, ground control, fires, explosives (underground), explosives (open cut), explosions, manual tasks and slips, trips and falls.

Researchers are looking to expand the functionality with $1.3 million in funding supplied by ACARP which takes ACARP’s total RISKGATE investment to $3.5 million.

Investigations will begin to analyse six more areas including outbursts, inrush, coal bursts and bumps, interface controls and displays, hazardous chemicals and tailings dams.

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