Queensland Mining and Safety recommends members of the mining industry should consider preparing themselves, both on and off site, for the upcoming storm season.
The storms, flood, operational mine stoppages and disruptions of less than 12 months ago should serve as a warning to be prepared. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting another wet, stormy and destructive summer.
The 2010-2011 storm season demonstrated how not being prepared can put lives at risk and disturb mine operations for months afterwards. All mine workers should consider the hazards created by severe weather conditions and resulting disruptions while attempting to restore operations. A mine’s response system must always be ready to deal with the hazards and risks.
What are the potential dangers?
Severe weather conditions included high-velocity destructive winds, intense thunderstorms, heavy rain and hail and flash flooding. These conditions can damage surface structures and harm people in both open and enclosed spaces. People close by charged blast holes may be exposed to explosive detonation from lighting strikes.
Underground mine operators may be at risk of sudden inundation from flash flooding, and lighting strikes may disrupt critical electrical supply to winder, ventilation, computer-based control and communication systems as well as transfer electrical energy to underground workings.
How to prepare?
By law, the site senior executive (SSE) is required to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential emergency situations caused by severe weather. The SSE must identify, determine and communicate places of safety.
The SSE must ensure adequate that resources, facilities and procedure are available while maintaining an effective management program before, during and after a storm.
The SSE risk assessment must:
- Ensure warning and evacuation systems work
- Ensure structures are sound
- Have an emergency response and rescue system
- Ensure clear communication systems and mutual assistance protocols
For more information on storm season preparations in the mining industry, visit the Queensland Mining and Safety website as well as the Bureau of Meteorology.