The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has released a safety report urging mines to review safety procedures around on-site quarry benches.
The Department fears the message of safety is not getting through after recently observing a number of mine employees and contractors working in and around the edge of quarry benches, completely unaware of the hazards involved.
In 2003 a drilling contractor working in NSW fell 9.5m from a bench and sustained multiple injuries. NSW DPI issued a Safety Alert SA 03-03 ‘Driller falls over bench face’ which made a number of recommendations regarding work around benches.
In May 2008, an explosives contractor working in Queensland fell 13m over a quarry bench, sustaining multiple injuries. In June 2008 the Queensland Mines Inspectorate issued Safety Bulletin 79 ‘Activities on Narrow Benches at Mines and Quarries’.
The Department recommended that mines review the aforementioned safety alerts while also ensuring that all employees and contractors who perform tasks on site are trained in and understand and use risk assessments and safe work method statements (SWMS) prior to conducting hazardous or new tasks.
The Department also recommended that mine sites ensure barriers, fall arrest systems or identifying markers restricting access into ‘no go’ areas are used or placed along all exposed edges where work is being undertaken and non-active benches or exposed edges should have appropriate berms in place to restrict access to the face.
MINE SAFETY OPERATIONS BRANCH
NSW DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES