11/07/2013 - 15:48

Pilbara miners warned after injury spike

11/07/2013 - 15:48

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Pilbara miners warned after injury spike

Western Australia's Department of Mines and Petroleum has issued a warning to Pilbara miners following a rise in recovery time for serious injuries.

According to the DMP the level of serious injuries in the Pilbara in 2012 remained the same as 2009 - after adjusting for the increased number of people in the industry - but the severity of the injuries meant workers needed up to three times more recovery time.

The DMP's Resources Safety Executive Director, Simon Ridge, urged companies to continue offering manual handling and safety training and for workers to use correct safety protocols.

Of 171 serious injuries at Pilbara mines last year, 107 were related to manual handling, Mr Ridge said.

He added that nine of these injuries were responsible for a 'staggering' half of the total work hours lost to injury time in Pilbara mines

Mr Ridge told Business News that in one case a worker who had received a knee injury had taken over a year to recover.

With 52 per cent more work hours in Pilbara mines during 2012 compared to three years prior, increased injury incidents were inevitable, Mr Ridge said.

He added that since the majority of these injuries occurred during manual handling activities people may be underestimating the severity of the soft tissue injuries that could occur.

"We must remember that injuries like these, such as joint and back complaints, can seriously impact quality of life on a long-term basis," he said.

Mr Ridge said that a combination of a large amount of construction in the Pilbara region, supervisors being too thinly stretched and the continued influx of a young inexperienced workforce had contributed to a rise in injury recovery time in the region.

While there has been a rise in the incidence of severe injuries, the good news is that it has been almost two years since there was a workplace death in the mining industry.

The last death in WA mining occurred at Rio Tinto's Brockman 2 Mine in August 2011, following three other Pilbara fatalities that year.

"Some people have been injured very badly and, looking at the figures overall and the nature of some of the incidents, we are lucky there weren't any deaths last year," Mr Ridge said.

 

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