Queensland‘s mining industry is one of the safest in the world according to the state’s latest health and safety report.
According the Queensland Mines and Quarries Safety Performance and Health Report 2010-11 the state’s industry has shown a range of improvements across the board.
"Queensland’s mining safety laws are all about minimising risk so that every worker returns home safely at the end of every shift," QLD mines minister Stirling Hinchliffe said.
"Unfortunately, there were three fatalities during 2010-11 and our condolences go to the families, work mates and friends of those who lost their lives.
"Two of the fatalities were vehicle-related accidents at surface coal mines while the third resulted from an earth collapse on a small opal claim."
Despite this, overall lost time injuries fell from 307 in 2009-10 to 273.
Unfortunately disabling injures rose from 428 to 505 year on year.
Medical treatment injures rose from 402 to 811 during the year, however this was due to statistics being collected from hard rock mine and quarries for the first time.
Lost time injury frequency rates overall fell from 3.8 injuries per million hours worked to 2.9 injures, while days lost to injuries dropped by more than a fifth from 14 325 day to 11 027 days.
The duration rate of injuries also dropped from 34.4 days to 27.4 days.
"Overall, the severity rate for lost time injuries and disabling injuries also fell from 311 days in 2009-10 to 230 days lost per million hours worked," Hinchliffe said.
"Mines inspectors undertook 1,512 inspections and 179 audits during 2010-11. From these activities 345 Directives and 1,334 Substandard Conditions or Practices notices were issued.
"The Mines Inspectorate also received 107 complaints on a wide range of safety issues and a significant number of man hours were expended in investigating high potential incidents and compliance matters."
According to the minister state initiatives to improve safety on site, including the use of whole body vibration (WBV) in mining and proximity detection system in vehicles, has resulted in a safer site.
"Based on input from both industry and unions, the WBV pilot project provided a format for toolbox talks and worker education that will be used as a model for further health hazard communication," Hincliffe said.
"The Mines Inspectorate has also been reviewing the use of polymeric chemicals in Queensland coal mines and has conducted a review of personal exposure to Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) in Queensland underground coal mines.
"Mines inspectors have conducted workshops to assist opal and gemstone miners develop and implement a safety and health management system (SHMS) for their operations.
"Opal and gemstone miners have successfully completed stage one of the small mines initiative."
Another addition to safety on site was the recent unveiling of the world’s first mobile underground mine gas lab.
The lab comes with a 20 point tube bundle gas monitoring system and ultrafast gas chromatograph, which allows it to carry out continuous automated analysis of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and oxygen levels at 20 different sites around a single mine.
"The ultrafast gas chromatograph also extends the real time analysis capability to include hydrogen, nitrogen, ethylene, ethane and acetylene," Hinchliffe added.
"This will provide critical information about gas concentrations, ratios and flammability needed for informed decisions about when it is safe to re-enter the mine.
Hinchliffe also highlighted the role Stewart Bell, Queensland’s commissioner for mine safety and health, played in the Pike River royal commission.