Mines overall safer despite deaths, permanent injuries

MINERS are suffering fewer injuries than last year, despite more people being permanently hurt in 2014 and the first death in a Queensland coal mine in seven years.

A report from the Mines Department found miners have continued to improve safety with 86 less injuries serious enough to take time off in 2013-14 than the year before.

However, during the same period, two people died in mines and permanent incapacities rose from 32 to 38.

Mines Department mine safety and health deputy director Paul Harrison said the number of deaths nationally was concerning.

"The year under review was bad for fatalities across the Australian mining industry, with a total of 16 workplace deaths in mining," he said.

"This is the worst result experienced for a number of years and has raised significant concern among regulators and mine operators alike. Improved training, greater competency and support of line supervisors are key areas requiring attention.

"Poor knowledge and lack of competency are precursors to disasters and fatal accidents."

There were two deaths in the 2013-14 year - one in an underground metalliferous mine and the second in an underground coal mine - the first death in a Queensland underground coal mine in seven years.

Despite this, Mr Harrison said Queensland mining's improving overall safety record was "heartening news".

"The Queensland mining industry continues to maintain its pre-eminent position as one of the safest and healthiest in the world," he said.

The report found days lost due to these injuries fell to 15,479 in 2013-14 from 21,282 the previous year.

Similarly, days lost to disabling injuries were down from 14,279 to 10,230 over the period.

The total lost-time injuries and disabling injuries workers experienced fell from 1026 the year earlier to 831 in 2013-14, and the severity rate dropped from 293 per million hours worked to 231 per million hours worked.

But with the increase in permanent injuries, and an increase Australia-wide in fatalities, Mr Harrison said improvements must be made.

- APN NEWSDESK



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