THE latest bulletin from the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit (QISU) at the Mater has revealed that despite progressive safety efforts, mining remains an industry where the potential for serious injury is high.
Mining is the single largest employment industry in Queensland, and while serious incidents are infrequent, minor injuries are common with 5,772 people presenting to a QISU participating emergency department between 1998 and 2005.
According to Dr Dirken Krahn, Paediatric Emergency Fellow from the Mater Children’s Hospital, males accounted for the vast majority of injuries (97%) and the most common injuries involved the eyes or hands.
“One quarter of all injury presentations involved eyes, with the majority of eye injuries occurring due to contact with an object or foreign body in the eye. A significant proportion also occurred as a result of a welding flash or exposure to noxious substances or heat,” Dr Krahn said.
“Given mining involves a wide variety of work environments, there are a number of different ways mine related injuries can occur, but the majority of all injuries were machine related (grinders) followed by vehicle incidents (heavy vehicles and cars) and falls.”
“The small proportion of females injured in mines also showed similar injury patterns to their male counterparts,” she said.
QISU found there are no clear trends in the mining fatality rate within the industry. However, over the last 25 years, there have been four major peaks in the statistics which can be tracked to single major incidences such as the 1994 gas explosion at Moura.
“The death rate has not fallen over the last decade despite safety measures that have been implemented,” Dr Krahn said.
“In recent years the government and the mining industry have increased their safety measures bu formalising the reporting of all incidents including deaths, injuries and incidences where potential injury could have occurred.”
“These are very important steps in preventing injury in the future and there needs to be ongoing efforts to prevent injury,” she said.
QISU recommends that the safety training should be repeated at regular intervals, that safety practices be standardised for all personnel and employees should be regularly encouraged by mine employers to report all incidents and potential incidents.