Features, OH&S News, Safety

Through the safety lens


Chris Georgiou, managing director at TASC Solutions, writes about the best approaches for hazard identification and prevention.

Mining is a hazardous industry, but that doesn’t mean that workers and their families must continue to suffer the consequences of these hazards.

This statement from the Brady Review (2019) highlights the critical importance of hazard identification in the risk management process. The Review recommended changes in the approach that industry takes in identifying and controlling hazards as these were two areas identified as causing incidents.

For most of us working in industry, we have a good understanding that hazards will be task related, that is from the work being undertaken and the skills and experience of those doing that work, as well as situational, associated with weather, ground conditions, environment and surroundings.

The challenge is that hazard identification cannot be a ‘one and done’ activity, an essential element of risk management must be the recognition and rectification of hazard controls that have been eroded or have become ineffective.

Actively seeking near-miss signals, on all sites – even those with long-term incident free records – is vital to prevent complacency which inevitably leads to severe consequences for worker safety.

Hazard identification can be undertaken using various tools and methods, including data analysis, workplace inspections and task analysis, consultation and seeking expert advice.

Hazard identification cannot be a tick-and-flick exercise. Ongoing consultation between managers, supervisors and workers is essential to ensure engagement with whatever tool is being utilised to identify hazards in the work site.

The benefits of getting outside of the office and talking with those completing the work cannot be undervalued.

Seeking understanding, different perspectives and experiencing the environment creates a greater opportunity to not only identify hazards but determine the best practical controls to manage the risk of these hazards where removal is not a viable option. Studies have shown that safety training can enhance workers identification of hazards in the workplace.

The combination of both formal and informal on-the-job training with practical experience in quarries led to hazard identification beyond that of the managers and supervisors. 

It is not that managers overlook hazards, but that the intimate experience and knowledge of the working conditions provides a different lens which in turn can be utilised to implement effective control measures.

Actively seeking the near-miss signals, using internal information, or seeking information from industry and peers external to the organisation allows for identification of the precursors to incidents, injury and fatalities and encourages the application of effective controls or removal of hazards from the workplace. This is the key to ensuring safety in the workplace.

Hazard Identification – keeping it top of mind for staff

The Brady Review (2019) highlighted failure to identify hazards as a contributing factor to safety performance in the mining and quarrying industry.

In 36 per cent of serious accidents reviewed, the hazard which cause the accident was not identified, therefore there was no control in place.

The Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA) offers a range of trainings on hazard identification. Training can be delivered virtually via webinar or face-to-face and contextualised around your internal procedures.

The training has been designed to examine the processes required to routinely identify hazards in the workplace, so that they can be assessed and controlled.

Keep hazard identification current, ensure hazards are not being overlooked, give your team the opportunity to discuss hazards in a safe environment. 

The IQA offers CPD hours for this training:

The Quarry Manager Certification System: Risk Management.

NSW Maintenance of Competence: Mining and WHS Systems (Subject A: Safety Management System). 

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