RESOURCES Safety, a division of the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection (DOCEP) in Western Australia was recently asked if there were any statistics showing improvements in safety in the mining industry resulting from personal protective equipment (PPE) use.
Chris Stubley, from the Information Services Section, Health Management Branch, said PPE was not specifically referred to on the injury notification forms so they cannot be used to provide the statistics. However, he suggested that an analysis of lost time injuries (LTIs) to eyes may provide a guide.
A quick look over the years that the Resources Safety database has been in operation gives the following information:
1987-88 216 lost time eye injuries out of a total of 2,246 LTIs
2005-06 15 lost time eye injuries out of a total of 462 LTIs
Over almost two decades, not only have the number of LTIs decreased, but the proportion of LTIs due to eye injuries has decreased from 96% to 32%.
Some of this improvement could be attributed to greater compliance with the requirement to wear eye protection. More functional and comfortable safety glass designs might also have increased acceptance.
As always, PPE should be viewed as the line of last resort in the hierarchy of controls.
This article first appeared in MINESAFE (Vol. 16, No. 3 — December 2007) published by the Resources Safety Division of the WA Department of Consumer and Employment Protection.
Health Management Branch