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Archive for the ‘Mine Health and Safety Management’ Category

It is an extremely valuable tool to have the necessary knowledge at your disposal to be able to conduct your own mine health and safety inspection. Whether your mining company is unionized or unorganized, many advantages exist to conducting a periodic mine health and safety inspection, just like with any other business.

A primary reason why you should conduct a mine health and safety inspection is to increase your odds of winning Department of Labour complaints and grievances. Documentation has the benefit of increasing your bargaining power and lessening chances that management will disagree with your arguments. Mine health and safety inspections are also sometimes used as an organizing tool to educate and activate members.

Who are able to conduct a Mine Health and Safety
Inspection?

 

Any worker (employee or employer) has the right to conduct a mine health and safety inspection. However, it should be noted that how a mine health and safety inspection is done and who carries it out totally depends on the unique circumstances of your mining company. For example, in unorganized mining companies a mine health and safety inspection should be carried out cautiously by communicating with co-workers before or after work, during lunch, or on breaks. However, in unionized mining companies, workers are given a certain leeway to carry out a more direct mine health and safety inspection. Unionized workers have the legal right to bring someone from the outside into the mining company to conduct the mine health and safety inspection.

Proceedings to be followed when conducting a
Mine Health and Safety Inspection

 

  • Setting goals for yourself;
  • Making use of a checklist;
  • Keeping detailed notes;
  • Inspecting documents; and
  • Involving other people.

What to do with the Findings of a Mine Health and Safety Inspection?

 

  • You should file grievances relating to the mine health and safety inspection if your contract already contains mine health and safety clauses. You should keep in mind that more bargaining power is gained through group grievances, in which a number of people sign on;
  • You should file Department of Labour complaints if your employer is in violation of regulations. The Department of Labour will subsequently conduct their own mine health and safety inspection;
  • You should organize different campaigns. You should thus be able to direct action by means of building support and showing upper management that employees are unified.

Mine health and safety incidents in the mining industry take place when hazards are not detected through preventive measures such as job or process safety analysis, or as the result of combinations of circumstances that were difficult to foresee. A mine health and safety incident investigation that has been done thoroughly should identify safe work practices, the need for new or more expensive safety training, as well as previously overlooked environmental, physical, or process hazards. The facts surrounding the mine health and safety incident and the lessons learnt from the mine health and safety incident to prevent similar occurrences in the future should be the main focus of any mine health and safety incident investigation. However, all employees should understand that mine health and safety incident investigations presents the opportunity to improve the company; it is not done to place blame.

When should a Mine Health and Safety Incident Investigation be conducted?

A mine health and safety incident investigation should be conducted for the following:

  • All incidents with the potential for injury;
  • All “near misses” where the potential for serious injury was present;
  • Product or property damage situations; and
  • All other injuries.

How should a Mine Health and Safety Incident Investigation be planned?

The planning of a mine health and safety incident investigation includes procedures determining the following:

  • Who is assigned to conduct mine health and safety incident investigations?
  • Who should be notified of mine health and safety incidents?
  • Who should notify outside agencies (fire department, police, etc.) of the mine health and safety incidents?
  • Who is responsible for working out timetables for conducting hazard correction?
  • Who receives and subsequently acts on mine health and safety incident investigation reports?
  • What training does mine health and safety incident investigators require?

How should information during a Mine Health and Safety Incident Investigation be gathered?

Information regarding the direct and indirect contributors to the mine health and safety incident should be gathered. The tools below should be used for the gathering of as much information as possible during a mine health and safety incident investigation.

  • The incident scene should be documented with the appropriate measurements, as well as with sketches, videotape, and photographs;
  • Interviews with eye witnesses should be conducted as soon as possible after the mine incident took place. It is important to interview witnesses separately as opposed to groups;
  • Interviews with all other interested parties like co-workers and supervisors should also be conducted; and
  • The following related records should be reviewed:
    • Medical records;
    • Training records;
    • Safety Committee records;
    • Disciplinary records;
    • Maintenance records; and
    • WCA forms.
  • Properly plan the Mine Health and Safety Management System. Carefully consider the objectives of the mining company, the structure of the mining company, the requirements of the relevant standard, and identified compliance gaps.
  • Define the policy statement. Ensure that it is written in your language, it is user-friendly, and is unique to your mining business.
  • Define the processes (both core and support) and their interaction.
  • Document the core processes in flow chart form.
  • Document the core sub-processes together with the necessary work instructions.
  • Document the necessary support processes, which include document control, purchasing, and training.
  • Identify system performance metrics (i.e. cost of poor quality); baseline and commence data gathering and analysis should also be identified.
  • A document distribution system should be established in order to make system documents available to certain people.
  • Train/orient the work force in the general aspects of the Mine Health and Safety Management System, as well as in those aspects of the Mine Health and Safety Management System which are more specific to their jobs.
  • Audit the Mine Health and Safety Management System internally. This will ensure that it is understood, implemented, as well as compliant with the Standard.
  • Have an initial management review.
  • Select a registration body.
  • The mining company should undergo a registration audit.

Factors affecting the Implementation Period of a
Mine Health and Safety Management System:

 

  • The degree to which top management is really committed to the implementation of a Mine Health and Safety Management System.
  • Resources availability. Can staff be freed up to spend time on the Mine Health and Safety Management System?
  • Whether or not important deadlines need to be met.
  • The type, size, and configuration of the mining company.
  • The mining company’s compliance status once the implementation process gets under way.
  • The extend to which the mining company is “system oriented”, as well as the extend to which the current level of processes can be used in the Mine Health and Safety Management System.
  • The number and magnitude of health/safety hazards and risks.

Steps taken to ensure a smooth Mine Health and Safety Management System Implementation:

 

  • Before the implementation of a Mine Health and Safety Management System takes place, you need to be sure of your decision. Apart from being expensive, it is at times difficult to implement a Mine Health and Safety Management System which adds value to your mining company and which works well (is effective). You should also realize that the implementation process takes time. However, once successfully implemented, it acts as a tool to help run the mining company better and so secure continual improvement.
  • Always ensure that top management is fully supportive of the Mine Health and Safety Management System at all times.
  • A Service Provider (SHER-Q Management Consultants) and project manager should be appointed. The Service Provider and project manager should have the support of both top management and co-workers. Additionally, the project manager should possess adequate knowledge about mining company history, mining company processes, and mining company people.
  • It is extremely important to implement the Mine Health and Safety Management System for the following reasons: (i) to fit your mining company; (ii) to comply with the specific needs of your mining company; and (iii) to ultimately meet your goals.

An effective Internal Mine Health and Safety Management System Audit is seen as a solid foundation and growth engine for your mining company. An Internal Mine Health and Safety Management System Audit has the ability to present a number of benefits to your mining company if performed properly. However, two important factors which play a crucial role in the outcome of the Internal Mine Health and Safety Management System Audit are a qualified internal auditor, as well as total commitment from the mining company’s top management. The mining company should at all times strive towards the improvement of operational excellence through the identification of areas of improvement, which includes present or future non-conformances.

Internal Auditing Guidelines used to conduct an
effective Internal Mine Health and Safety Management System Audit:

 

  • Identify the requirements from the Mine Health and Safety standard applicable to the department being audited. Verify compliance of all of them;
  • Ask for a SOP. The SOP will either be in editable or non-editable form. It is usually in pdf form, but if paper based, it should be stamped as a controlled copy;
  • Clearly identify the input and output of the SOP;
  • Present a description of the process in SOP. This description should cover in depth what the department being audited does regarding that process;
  • As mentioned in the reference document part of the SOP, reference documents should be available and subsequently followed;
  • A check should be done for other documents used (those which does not form part of SOP);
  • Verify a quality objective list. Ensure that all quality objectives are measurable and time bound;
  • Check awareness of the HOD, process owner, and other employees regarding the quality policy and quality objectives;
  • A plan should be intact regarding the achievement of quality objectives;
  • Tracking of quality objectives/health and safety objectives should take place. Achievement data should thus be available to compare against each objective;
  • Take notes while busy auditing;
  • Summarize all the findings. Also enquire about NC’s if any;
  • Share all the findings with the auditee. It is very important to gain approval of the NC from the auditee. The NC report, together with objective evidence, should then be prepared and again be laid before the auditee; and
  • Schedule follow-up meetings with the auditee to make sure actions are taken within a predetermined time frame.

1. Mine/Operation Information

Basic information that should be included in a Mine Emergency Response Plan applying to the mining for which it is developed:

  • Name of the mine together with contact numbers (telephone, fax, e-mail) and a mailing address;
  • Name of the mine manager;
  • Mine number and permit number;
  • Type of operation (surface, underground, sand and gravel, placer, exploration, quarry);
  • Location of the mine/property (Lat/Long or UTM); and
  • Number of employees on site, which includes management and contractors.

It is of the utmost importance that a mine’s Mine Emergency Response Plan are updated regularly. It should be maintained on site and made available to responding agencies, personnel, or teams.

2. Hazard Analysis of Mine/Operation

This section of the Mine Emergency Response Plan identifies all potential emergencies that could take place at the mine site. The five basic categories of emergencies are:

  • Environmental;
  • Equipment failure;
  • Explosion/fire;
  • Climate; and
  • Worker injury.

3. Emergency Equipment

The Mine Emergency Response Plan should state that emergency equipment should always be available on site to deal with potential hazards/emergencies. Examples of this equipment include:

  • Rescue equipment;
  • First Aid supplies;
  • Emergency transport vehicle;
  • Fire pumps and extinguishers;
  • Equipment that can be assigned to an emergency task (such as a bulldozer); and
  • Forest fighting supplies.

4. Trained Personnel

Information regarding the trained personnel on site dealing with potential hazards/emergencies should be readily available. A Mine Emergency Response Plan should provide the following:

  • Contact information for trained emergency personnel; and
  • Identification of other sources of trained emergency personnel (like the local search and rescue, back-up emergency teams, local fire department).

5. Implementation of a Mine Emergency Response Plan

This section should clearly define how those involved in an emergency are to access and implement the Mine Emergency Response Plan. The following should be implemented:

  • First steps: who to call, when to call, how to call;
  • Who is responsible for the implementation of the Mine Emergency Response Plan?;
  • Who is in charge of conducting emergency operations?; and
  • What communication systems should be used during an emergency? (Satellite phone, two-way radio, cell phone).

6. Directions to the Mine Site

Clearly written directions to the mine site should be provided by a Mine Emergency Response Plan. Maps which can be used for navigation should also be available.

7. Contact Lists

In addition to company contacts, a Mine Emergency Response Plan should also include contact information for all agencies listed within the plan. Examples of contacts that should be included are:

  • Outside agencies (government contacts);
  • Emergency personnel;
  • First Aid providers;
  • Back-up rescue team;
  • Corporate Head Office;
  • Mine Manager;
  • Transport companies, including air service; and
  • Equipment suppliers.

8. Training

A provision for training all persons on site should be included in a Mine Emergency Response Plan.

9. Record Keeping

Supplementary to the Mine Emergency Response Plan are all the records associated therewith. Records of the following should be maintained on site:

  • Implementation of emergency procedures;
  • Equipment checks;
  • Incident debriefing; and
  • Training.

When in the process of planning a Mine Health and Safety Management System, all employers should be aware of the following:

  • The different categories of people that you should protect; and
  • The regulations concerned with mine health and safety applying to you and your mining operations.
  • It is of the utmost importance to gain a complete understanding of the above before safety systems are developed, risk assessments conducted, or policy statements written.

 

Different Categories of People and the points to
be addressed for each Category:

  • Employees-  An account should be taken of all employees’ capabilities before they carry out tasks. This includes their age, sex, size, physical strength, and their experience and competence concerning the tasks they are expected to perform;
  • They should receive adequate training as soon as they are appointed;
  • It is your duty as employer to provide them with information regarding changes in systems and procedures of work on a routine refresher basis; and
  • It is your duty as employer to provide them with information concerning the risks to health and safety associated with their jobs, the health and safety control measures, their obligation regarding health and safety, the emergency, fire, and accident procedures, the results of any monitoring and health surveillance, and the safe systems of work to be observed.

 

Employees with known disabilities

In addition to the points concerning employees:

  • You as employer should ensure that employees do not perform tasks or handle substances which present certain risks for them; and
  • The implementation of a staff health surveillance scheme is a good idea. This includes pre-employment health checks, and ongoing records of employee complaints, sickness, or absence. The scheme will also help in identifying existing disabilities.

 

Temporary Workers/Students/Trainees

Due to their unfamiliarity and inexperience, this is a particularly high risk group.

  • They should be provided with the same degree of protection as full employees;
  • You should stipulate special provisions for trainees regarding your systems of work; and
  • The point at which special provision is no longer needed for trainees for each system of work should be clearly demonstrated.

Visitors and the General Public

You as employer should ensure that your activities and premises do not present a risk to visitors or the general public.

  • Appropriate directions, instructions, and safety notices should be displayed;
  • Visitors should not be left unaccompanied or gain access to hazardous areas;
  • All visitors should be provided with sufficient safety information;
  • The offices, changing rooms, or toilets used by visitors should at all times be clean and tidy;
  • Sufficient protective clothing should always be available for use by visitors;
  • You should ensure that you have a plan for the premises available if emergency services are deployed. The positions of hazardous areas (gas cylinders, high voltages, dangerous chemicals) are important; and
  • You should consider your impact on the general public with regard to environmental hazards (dust, fumes, noise), as well as physical hazards (heavy works traffic, mud on the road).

We can help you to develop a Mine Health and Safety System. Book a consultation with one of our consultants.

Contractors

In addition to the points regarding visitors/general public:

  • You as employer should ensure that contractors are fully informed regarding the risks and hazards to health and safety which they are exposed to on your site;
  • All contractors should be competent and their equipment should comply with statutory provisions; and
  • It is your responsibility to inform contractors of the measures they should take and the measures taken by you in order to ensure compliance with not only your systems of work, but also with legislative requirements.

 

We can help you to develop a Mine Health and Safety System. Book a consultation with one of our consultants.

The main reason why a lot of mines provide mine health and safety training is to ensure that productivity in the workplace is not affected by injuries or illnesses. It may even be required by law in other instances. When it comes to mine health and safety training, employees are not the only people who should have sufficient knowledge at their disposal. Employers should also consist of knowledge about the risks found at work; as such, they should pass the information down to their staff. Whatever the motivation behind mine health and safety training, its ultimate goal is to equip the entire workforce with the necessary skills needed to perform their daily tasks with as little harm as possible.

Considerations of Mine Health and Safety Training

  • Some important factors need to be taken into consideration before mine health and safety training can begin in the workplace. The evaluation of the characteristics of the employees is one of the most important of these. This should be done to make it possible for the program to cater to each worker’s specific needs. For example, new employees require special attention as they are not familiar with the mine’s first aid and evacuation procedures. Some of the existing employees also need to undergo some refresher courses from time to time to sharpen up their mine health and safety skills learned before.

Evaluation of Mine Health and Safety Training

A wide variety of mine health and safety training modules are available. It ranges from illness prevention to evacuation drills. In order to assist a mine in selecting the mine health and safety training module most relevant to their workplace, an objective source of information, like their track record, should be taken into consideration. There are always some areas that require more focus than others. Data on injuries, diseases, and other situations will help identify which areas the most need focus. Insight provided from the employees themselves is crucial, seeing as they are the ones who come in contact with the existing risk factors present in the workplace. After concluding the mine health and safety training period, all employees should follow it up with an evaluation to see whether any changes took place. Records regarding the statistical data on mine health and safety training, both before and after, should also be kept. This way comparisons can be made to determine whether the mine health and safety training was a success or not.

Methods of Mine Health and Safety Training

Information on effective mine health and safety training are mostly relayed to employees in either one of two methods. Lecturing that takes place in a classroom setting is the one method. When theory and concepts need to be discussed, this is most effective. The second method is known as on-the-job training. During this method, a particular employee is assigned a mentor to experience firsthand how they should and should not perform on the job.

It is of the utmost importance for any mine to comply with all relevant mine health and safety legislation. If your mine does indeed have a mine health and safety manual at your disposal, it will serve as an aid to comply with mine health and safety legislation. The main causes of ill health and accidents within different mines are targeted within the mine health and safety manual.

Processes specific to your mining operations entails specific risks. The more specialized and dangerous your operations, the more you must liaise with your inspectorate. You should also accept detailed advice regarding certain aspects of your mine health and safety policy which requires additions to your mine health and safety manual. Your mine’s mine health and safety manual should thus be very thorough.

Application and Features of a Mine Health and Safety Manual

  • Its structure and layout should be easy to follow. In order to ensure this, it can be edited or cut down according to your mine’s requirements;
  • Apart from compliance with the law, a mine health and safety manual should make life easier when it comes to running the mine by setting out clear paths through the law and processes involved;
  • The mine health and safety manual should be fully comprehensive; and
  • A model policy for the mine should be included.

 

Content of a Mine Health and Safety Manual

Information regarding the following content should be contained within a mine health and safety manual:

  • General Safety Information;
  • Safety Policy Statement;
  • Special Safety Precautions;
  • General Safety Regulations;
  • Health and Safety Manual control sheet;
  • Display Screen Regulations;
  • Manual Revision and Control;
  • Manual Handling;
  • Disability Policy;
  • Fire Procedures;
  • Risk Assessment, Supervision, and Out-of-Hours Working;
  • Smoking Policy;
  • Fire Stewards;
  • Deliveries;
  • Incompatible Chemicals;
  • Health and Safety safe working practice guidance;
  • Security Cards and Keys;
  • Access and Permit to Work;
  • Induction Sheet;
  • First Aiders;
  • Poisons;
  • Disposal of Radioactive Waste;
  • Waste Management;
  • Building Facilities;
  • Building Fabric and Infrastructure;
  • Building Systems;
  • General Safety for Contractors and Visitors; and
  • List of Hazards, Risk Assessment Forms.

The implementation of a mine health and safety management system promotes a safe and healthy working environment in mines. A mine health and safety management system can thus be described as a process that you as employer put in place to minimize the occurrence of illness and injury in the workplace (mine). The implementation of a mine health and safety management system is accomplished through the assessment and identification of mining hazards.

Risk control in all mining operations is then also able to take place. It is important to note that the scope and complexity of a mine health and safety management system varies depending on the nature of mining activities performed, as well as the type of mine (shaft or open-pit) it is being performed in. The spectrum of staff-related risks in the mine is also managed well. This will enable your mine to have control over insurance costs and most likely lead to an increase in performance from its existing operations.

Understanding a Mine Health and Safety Management System

Health and safety are two key mining concerns. A mine health and safety management system assists you in cutting costs, controlling risks, and getting a competitive edge. Ensuring that you deal with all related issues could be challenging. Compliance to a mine health and safety management system ensures that you do not repeat past mistakes.

A mine health and safety management system also helps you comply with all legal obligations. All employees will understand what the correct way of doing things is. Most importantly, a mine health and safety management system provides the foundation for continual improvement of your mine’s health and safety management. Thus, a mine health and safety management system can help your mine run much more safely and efficiently.

  • Demonstrating to the public that you are taking a responsible attitude towards all your employees and co-workers. This will improve your image and subsequently help generate positive PR for your mine;
  • Demonstrating to your insurers that you are effectively controlling risks. This can lead to lower insurance premiums;
  • Improving awareness of regulatory requirements could reduce the chance of you committing any offences. If your mine is well managed, the Health and Safety Executive could regulate your mining activities a bit lighter;
  • Gaining more confidence from your business partners in your mine. By showing that you have an effective management system, you could attract potential business from government agencies and large companies;
  • Reducing the costs associated with incidents and accidents by means of improved health and safety performance by your mine;
  • Managing your mine could convince investors and banks to finance your mine;
  • Improving the efficiency of your mining activities could lead to reduced costs; and
  • Looking actively after your employees’ health and safety could lead to improved morale and relations.

Systematic Approach to Mine Health and Safety Management

Following a systematic approach to management makes it both more effective and easier to manage your mine. You have to work out the best way to handle each activity in the mine and subsequently ensure that everyone makes use of the same approach each time. Using a consistent approach can not only reduce mistakes, but also reduce the cost of correcting problems over time. Following a systematic approach reduces risk levels in the mine and ensures that your mine complies with legislation; this can only influence your mining activities positively.

RYNMAG is focussed on research, information, education and training in occupational health and safety. Contact us  to find out how we can help you protect the safety and health of your employees.