THANK you for raising my concerns about mine safety in the article, ‘Boom warning on mine safety’, (WA Business News, December 16 2004).
I have been an external observer of the mining industry since first becoming a resident of a Pilbara town in 1988.
Some 10 years ago, a close friend (a mine worker) was injured when the support pins holding a ripper on a dozer failed and fell towards him. He was assisting with maintenance at the time. His wrists were shattered when he tried to protect himself from the falling machinery. Later the same year, two workers died at the same mine site.
Since these events I have undertaken extensive research into the challenges facing hazardous industries. This work has culminated in the publication of a book, Productive Safety Management – a strategic multidisciplinary management system for hazardous industries that ties safety and production together.
One of the greatest challenges yet to be addressed by the industry is the conflict between safety and production. During boom times there are enormous financial incentives for companies to push production targets up. This can be detrimental to worker safety.
Also, even if companies have a ‘safety first’ policy it does not mean that safety takes priority at the operational level, particularly when output targets are set high to take advantage of strong demand and high commodity prices.
The solution to the conflict between safety and production is to manage risk for the sake of both. This requires firstly that companies put systems in place to manage risk effectively. Secondly, companies need to implement a management system that builds a productive and safe culture. Finally, risk management needs to be a core business function used to ensure the safety of workers, protection of company assets and continuity of supply.
Align Strategic Management Services