Injury levels during the final months of Western Australia’s mining boom were at their lowest rate for more than a decade, according to a new government report.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum yesterday released an analysis of serious injury data in the WA mining industry for the second half 2013, which showed the injury rate per thousand workers levelled out since 2011.
Between 2002 and 2011 the serious injury rate dropped from 14 per thousand workers to less than ten per thousand, with a slight increase to ten in 2013.
The report suggested that this indicated there had been no significant changes in safety processes and mining techniques during those recent years.
The actual number of serious injuries in the WA mining industry rose from 585 in the first half 2013 to 655 in the second half, an increase of 12 per cent.
However, total injuries including fatalities remained stable with 827 in the first half and 837 in the second.
Amputation, fractures and crush injuries fell from 123 in the first half to 106 in the second half 2013, representing a 14 per cent improvement.
The latter half 2013 saw three fatalities occur in the WA mining industry, while no fatalities were recorded in 2012.
Nationwide the mining industry saw 15 deaths in 2014, and a further seven deaths in 2015.
No mining fatalities have occurred in Australia since 16 May, a new record run of zero fatalities in three months.
DMP state mining engineer Andrew Chaplyn said the the serious injury review and the earlier fatal accident review independently identified the three main hazards for all employees.
“They are falling while working at height, being in the line of fire for objects or suspended loads, and being struck or crushed by machines and heavy components,” he said.
“The department is encouraging companies to build on the information available, and develop more comprehensive hazard and risk profiles.
“In particular, job and task analysis should focus attention on critical tasks and activities where risks are heightened.”
Chaplyn said the results have been presented at the Nifty, Woodie Woodie and Telfer Mines, each of which has seen a fatality this year.
At his release of the report on Monday mines minister Bill Marmion said the report would be a valuable resource for everyone in the WA mining industry.
"The simple concept of 'golden safety rules' can reinforce critical awareness and controls, such as never start work if there is a risk of falling from height, never stand under anything that can fall on you and never place any part of your body where it can be crushed," he said.
“Despite a fatality free year in 2012 and six deaths in 2009, there have been on average two to three deaths per year on WA mine sites, however, this report identifies that there are on average approximately 200 high consequence injuries every twelve months which have very similar causal factors to fatalities.
“Reviewing the rate of high severity injuries including amputations, fractures and crush injuries could help provide key indicators so more efforts can be focused on critical activities which have been shown can link to serious injuries or fatalities.”