Social media activity risks mine safety

Mine workers who engage in social media while handling heavy machinery are putting lives at risk, the Queensland Government’s Mine Inspectorate said on Tuesday.

The inspectorate who is charged with the state’s mine safety is currently investigating several serious or high potential, narrowly avoided incidents directly caused by workers using mobile technology.

The inspectorate announced it was "aware of mine workers using mobile devices while operating vehicles or other mobile plant", the Gladstone Observer reported.

A safety bulletin was yesterday distributed throughout the industry.

It has been alleged that workers are checking sites like Facebook while driving bulldozers, graders, dump trucks and excavators.

"The inspectorate believes the use of mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads – and interaction on social media – is widespread at open-cut coal mines," Chief inspector of coal mines Gavin Taylor said.

"This is a significant safety concern, given the size and gross weights of equipment moving around on site."
Although to date no actual injuries have been attributed to workers “engaging in social media”, there have been a number of near-misses.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union Queensland district secretary Tim Whyte said the union had not received many reports of incidents involving mobiles on mine sites but condemned their use while operating machinery none-the less.

"The issue is, mobile phones anywhere in a heavy or light vehicle should not be used," Whyte said.

"That's why it's outlawed on the road.

"There's been enough accidents to do with alcohol, fatigue and inattention due to mobile phones."

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