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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.
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