Sobering OHS stats should prompt us to redouble our safety efforts

Stop the press! Well, it’s a bit late for that now…

Not long after we went to press in Quarry last month with the 2015 national launch of the IQA Awards program, we had a last-minute change of sponsor for the Young Member Award.

The Young Member Award recognises a young IQA member for their achievements in, or contribution to, the extractive industry and the IQA. The prize is a place on the IQA Young Member Network international study tour up to the value of $5000. This year’s prize will include travel to New Zealand, so I encourage young IQA members to get their applications in.

It’s a great pleasure to officially announce the new award sponsor for the Young Member Award is Weir Minerals Australia. A quick Google search on Weir Minerals reveals it encompasses some well known brand names such as Trio, Warman, Linatex, Multiflo, Aspir and many more. Weir has 16 branches and four manufacturing facilities throughout Australia. It is an expert in wear resistant linings, slurry equipment solutions, valves and dewatering.

The IQA is very pleased to have Weir on board as a sponsor and we look forward to presenting the first Weir Minerals Young Member Award at our October conference in Adelaide. I encourage all IQA members to introduce themselves to Weir’s representatives at the conference and to consider how they may be able to utilise its services and products.

On a more sobering note, I was at a Minerals Council OHS committee meeting in June and was disappointed at the current statistics for fatalities in our mining (hard rock and coal), smelting and extractive industries from September 2014 through to May this year. We have had nine deaths in our industry in that time. All involve different circumstances, but with all our focus on safety – on systems such as Take 5s, Step Back, JSEA etc – our results are, to say the least, trending the wrong way. Our friends in New Zealand have had three deaths in the quarry industry this year, for the first time in 12 years. Our thoughts go out to those workers and their families.

Can I suggest you get your team together and discuss your operations, OHS, “stop the job” and other initiatives – whatever it takes to focus your work efforts on getting everyone home safely at the end of the working day?

The IQA has a number of safety days on its education calendar. The biggest was the Queensland branch’s Annual Quarrying Safety and Health Seminar, held in Brisbane last month. Events such as these may also help you achieve the focus or new ideas to tackle workplace injuries.

The Institute of Quarrying New Zealand’s annual conference is being hosted in Hamilton from 15 to 17 July. It’s a conference very much like ours, featuring a program of technical talks, with supplier displays and social events, and well worth the trip across the ditch. The conference will mark the changeover of IQNZ President from Gordon Laing to the current Deputy President Les Ward, both of whom are well known within the IQA. Our over-35s study tour will culminate at the conference, so there will be plenty of Aussies in force in Hamilton.

If you’re able to get across, don’t mention the rugby to the locals – but if challenged, remind them of the America’s Cup*!

Until next time, stay safe!

*Editor’s Note: John refers to the outcome of yachting’s 34th America’s Cup match, held in San Francisco in September 2013. Defender Oracle Team USA (whose 11-man multinational crew included five Australian professional sailors) overcame an 8-1 head start by challenger Team New Zealand to retain the Cup 9-8.

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