The recently released Safety performance in the Western Australian mineral industry — accident and injury statistics 05—06 revealed a 10% increase in the average workforce from the previous year.
There was an average workforce of 56,425 employees in 2005—06 who worked a total of 111.94 million hours.
Statistics from Resources Safety’s AXTAT database for this period show a slight but continuing improvement in the overall safety performance in the industry.
There were 506 disabling injuries recorded for 2005—06, a decrease of 102 on the previous year, with the disabling injury incidence and frequency rates both improving at 9.0 and 4.5, respectively.
The statistics suggest that a renewed effort on the part of all stakeholders is required, and new approaches to the issue of accident prevention are necessary to continue to improve safety.
Five mining industry employees lost their lives during the year, three more than the previous year.
Fatal incidence rates by mineral mined over the five-year period from 2001—02 to 2005—06 show that the underground fatal incidence rate is more than four times higher than surface operations.
This is reflected in the gold, nickel and base metal sectors where most of the State’s underground mining occurs.
In this five-year period, there were 19 fatalities, with six underground and 13 at surface operations.
The most common type of underground fatal accident was contact with electricity, which resulted in two fatalities, while on the surface vehicle or mobile equipment collision resulted in three fatalities, followed by rockfall and caught by or between operating machine accounting for two fatalities each.
During 2005—06 there were 349 serious injuries reported in the mineral industry, up from 316 in the previous reporting period, and of these ten were in coal mines.
Over the five-year period from 2001—02 to 2005—06, the serious injury frequency rate decreased for underground operations, remained the same for surface metalliferous operations and decreased for the coal sector, resulting in a three per cent improvement overall during 2005—06.
In this five-year period, injuries to legs accounted for 26% of injuries in underground mines, followed by hand and neck injuries (17%) then back injuries (13%). Of the serious leg injuries, 93% were to knees and ankles.
The majority of serious injuries underground were in production and development areas (76%), followed by access and haulage ways (13%) and dumping areas (6%), and the most common accident type was slip or trip (17%), rockfall (13%) and then stepping and over-exertion or strenuous movements both at 11%.
For surface operations, the largest proportion of serious injuries was to legs (24%), then backs (21%), followed by arms (19%). Of the serious leg injuries, 70% were to knees and ankles.
For arm injuries, 72% were to shoulders and wrists.
The majority of serious injuries on the surface occurred in treatment plants (40%), followed by open pits (21%) and workshops (13%), with the most common accident types being over-exertion or strenuous movements (32%), slip or trip (13%) and struck by object (10%).
Lost time injuries (LTIs)
During 2005—06, days lost through occupational injuries on mines in Western Australia totalled 20,849, while in that period there were 462 LTIs.
In addition to the initial injuries, there were 38 recurrences of previous injuries, resulting in 1,044 work days lost.
A total of 113 persons who were still off work from injuries received before July 2005 lost 10,495 work days in 2005—06.
Readers can access the full safety performance publication from the Resources Safety website at www.docep.wa.gov.au/resourcessafety — go to the industry performance section under the mining heading.
* The information presented in this statistical analysis is prepared by Resources Safety from data submitted by mining operations throughout Western Australia as required by section 76 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994. Note that exploration data are not included. During the 12-month period covered, an average of 213 mines or groups of mines reported to the AXTAT system.