Home > Matthew Gill and Robert Long to address The Safety Conference Sydney

Matthew Gill and Robert Long to address The Safety Conference Sydney

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article image Robert Long

Thinking the worst was one of the surprising tactics that helped the Beaconsfield Mine community survive the intense pressure of the April 2006 underground recovery and rescue operation, according to former Beaconsfield mine manager and the psychologist who saw through the crisis.

Matthew Gill and Robert Long will reveal how the human side of the rock fall crisis was managed in their address to The Safety Conference Sydney.

Hosted by the Safety Institute of Australia's NSW division and sponsored by WorkCover NSW, the conference is expected to draw about 1000 delegates to hear from 80 local and overseas experts from October 24 to 26 at the Sydney Showground.

When the Anzac Day rock fall killed miner Larry Knight and trapped miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb, the Beaconsfield community was faced with a unique crisis, all under the glare of what was possibly a great media event in Australian history.

Against the odds, the Beaconsfield Mine joint venture was successfully able to manage the unexpected events and rescue the two trapped miners after an exhausting 14 day ordeal, according to Gill and Long.

Factors including the resilience of management, coordination dynamic, design and use of space, preoccupation with all possibilities and a sensitivity to operations, played a key part in managing and surviving the crisis, they said.

Other factors pivotal to the operation’s success include a reluctance to simplify interpretations, a commitment to resilience and the company’s carefully laid disaster plans.

In the case of Beaconsfield, preoccupation with failure was one characteristic of its success. Preoccupation with failure is more than just thinking about the worst that could happen, it is far more intentional than that.

At Beaconsfield, it was having as many options as possible, risk assessing all options, testing in theory and in practice all of those options, above and below ground, and having the creative space and security of culture to imagine the worst that could happen.

Long said even the intentional design of the organisation’s courtyard outside the emergency operations control group control room was a critical component in the rescue operation, providing connectedness for the community.

It was a meeting place, a space to debrief, an observation place to assess fatigue and the mental health of rescuers, as well as a space for managing frustration, eating, conversation and a symbolic place for community, solidarity and collaboration.

More details are available at Australian Exhibitions & Conferences.

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