Industry News

Challenging ourselves, our records on safety?

Guarding, ground control, unplanned movement of plant, respirable crystalline silica, competency …

These are all issues that I’m seeing and hearing on a regular basis in our industry, many of which (of course) I’d prefer not to be hearing about on such a frequent basis.

I had the pleasure of speaking at the 17th annual Quarrying Safety and Health Conference in Brisbane last month.

In preparation for the conference, and reflecting on the previous 12 months, I have to ask myself the question: Given the regulation we work under, industry information and training available and as an industry which has traditionally been an engaged one on issues relating to safety, why are we not doing better?

Logic tells me to assess both what we’re doing well and what we need to improve on. Again, thinking along these lines turned my attention to the positives and challenges in the industry with respect to safety.

On the positives, we see some fantastic innovations and initiatives coming from the industry, many of which are presented at events throughout the year, or published in Quarry.

{{quote-A:R-W:185-Q:"As an industry engaged in safety, why aren’t we doing better?"}}The industry has many experienced people and many quarries have excellent content and training packages which are delivered with respect to safety. Industry organisations and registered training organisations also offer relevant and affordable training for the construction materials sector.

On the challenges, however, we’ve seen a decline in training course take-up within the IQA over the past year, and it’s a trend which is a downward one.

We’re all busy, doing more with less – I’m sure you’ve all heard that one!

We’re seeing many long-term industry people retire and the economy has been somewhat challenging for the construction materials sector, especially in the lead-up to the recent federal election.

I certainly don’t have the answer but we’re obviously not doing enough – not doing enough for ourselves, our workmates, our employers and the industry.

Murray Riches, an Inspector of Mines in Queensland, said it best a few years ago at the annual Queensland Safety and Health Conference.

“It’s not us at these events we need to be talking to,” he said, “it’s those who are not here, not engaged or not giving this type of forum the attention it deserves.”

My challenge is for us to use our networks and take home the key messages we receive and get more people talking about safety – but it’s not just safety in general, it’s about what can we do to “do better”.

It’s the million dollar question: How do we engage with the absent people?

Mandatory competencies is one response from the Queensland regulator, a lifting of the bar, but do we need to go further?

Has New Zealand got it right with its mandatory CPD model?

Again, I’m not suggesting we have the answers but we need to be challenging ourselves and our current performance. We all have that responsibility!

Have a safe and productive month ahead.

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