emergency rescue mining

Disastrous incidents in the workplace calls on workers to function swiftly and efficiently while under tremendous life-or-death pressure. Developing an emergency response plan that is tailored for your specific work environment is therefore critical to ensure preparedness in time of crisis. A well constructed plan takes into account the hazards that are most likely to occur in your mining operation and provides detailed instructions for all parties involved, so increasing the chances of a positive outcome. Where does one start in the development of an emergency plan that is customized for your mining operation?

It is recommended that workers be involved in the identification and analysis of worst-case scenarios (Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum). The benefits of uniting management, consultants as well as workers in your risk management approach are plentiful. Not only are workers likely to contribute the value of their close knowledge about the risks associated with their working environment, but operations will also benefit, resulting in:

  • engagement and commitment to managing the identified risk
  • increased awareness of the risks associated with their work
  • improved decision-making surrounding risks
  • informed emergency response planning
  • focus on prevention rather than response.

Emergency Response plans for Australian Mines

Safe Work Australia gives the following pointers for the preparation and maintenance of general emergency plans in fixed workplaces :

The Elements of an Emergency Plan

Your emergency plan should set out instructions that outlines procedures that workers and other parties are to execute during an emergency. Procedures that should be included in order to orchestrate an effective emergency response are:

  • evacuation procedures, including arrangements for assisting persons with hearing, vision or mobility impairments.
  • Communication mechanisms to be used for alerting people at the workplace of the emergency situation and coordination of the emergency response plan, for example a PA (public announcement system) or alarm.
  • notification of emergency service organisations at earliest opportunity and may include the contact details for key emergency personnel and services, for example first aid officers and local emergency services.
  • medical treatment and assistance procedures, that may include a map to illustrate the location of emergency and medical equipment throughout the facility.

The emergency plan must provide for procedures to be frequently tested and must include training and instruction to relevant workers to enable them to implement all emergency procedures. The emergency plan must be easily accessible by all parties or on display in the workplace.

Additional Requirements for Higher Risk Workplaces

Mining operations are classified as higher-risk workplaces and are therefore required to include additional information in their emergency plans. The Code of Practice for Emergency Response at Australian Mines describes emergency protocols and regulations for mine operators and other parties such as mine holders, workers, health and safety representatives and other relevant emergency services.

Based on Schedule 9.4 of the WHS Regulations, emergency plans for mining operations are required to include information regarding

  • site and hazard details
  • command structure and site personnel
  • notifications
  • emergency resources and equipment, and
  • emergency procedures
  • additional information based on the outcome of the site specific risk management processes.

Printable Checklist (Click for printable version)

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The emergency plan should also, as far as reasonably possible provide for:

  • measures for isolating the area where the emergency incident has taken place
  • identifying triggers for withdrawal from specific areas of the mine to a place of safety, or evacuation form mine
  • availability of sufficient emergency equipment, first aid and medical personnel or assistance
  • locating and accounting for all persons at all times

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Underground Mine Safety