Safety concerns in Aussie mines
Sun, 19 Aug 2012 6:15p.m.
By Susie Nordqvist
Half a million Kiwis call Australia home and more are set to follow as the mining boom there continues.
But one Kiwi safety expert believes the influx of inexperienced workers could leave the Australian mining industry vulnerable to a Pike River disaster of its own.
Kathleen Callaghan isn't one to pull any punches.
“There is an expression that says the fish rots from its head,” says Ms Callaghan, a safety specialist.
It was November 2011 and Ms Callaghan was telling the Royal Commission what she thought of the "management culture" at Pike River.
She specialises in how human behaviour can cause errors in the workplace. She says Pike River was an "accident waiting to happen".
But could the same be true of the Australian mining industry that is luring thousands of Kiwis?
“There's new legislation; there's unprecedented growth; there's a skills shortage and they have inexperienced workers. Those four issues, each one in themselves have been identified as very much increasing vulnerability, producing of error.”
Ms Callaghan raised those very issues with the mining sector at a health safety conference in Australia this weekend.
“We want people to really understand how accidents happen and that those signs of impending doom. The signs that there's a problem are really clearly visible to people that are trained to look for those specific signs well in advance of the accident.”
In June, there were 168 serious accidents or high-risk situations recorded at Australian mines.
Each case represented a lapse in concentration, poor timing or just bad luck.
But a company that recruits Kiwis for the Australian mines says everyone gets safety training.
“There is a cost to having accidents on mine site which is prohibitive to business,” says Jason Clayton, director of the OZ Jobs Expo. “It's something that's placed in front of production. Health and safety is more important than production.”
Ms Callaghan says human error is involved in 80 to 90 percent of all workplace accidents, but defences can be put in place.
“For inexperience you might think about how you are going to have a buddy system,” she says. “How are those people going to be supervised?”
It's not a message solely for the Australian mining industry. Ms Callaghan says Kiwi workplaces aren't doing a good enough job either. Too many people are going to work and not coming home.
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23/08/2012 12:33:21 p.m.
David woode wrote:
I like to work head in any Companny ,
21/08/2012 1:05:21 a.m.
Mrs Callaghans comments are pathetic to say the least .To sensationalise and target kiwis behaviour anymore than others is a bit rich. To speak at a conference in Aussie over such matters I hope the Aussies didn't pay to much to listen to that sensationalism .Of course she is free to make a comment . Accidents will always happen in dangerous and risky industry.High quality injury prevention training will minimise accidents but behavioural training by itself will not stop accident either.The belief that 99% of accidents can be avoided in the workplace is also just a belief because the other 1% is an act of God and some of us don't know about that either!The fact of the matter is that accidents will always happen in the workplace no matter what comments people say about such things..The point is that if company does all the right things ,like plan and structure there business in such away that safety is 1st priority "no matter what ""even before production"Should I say?Then we would probably see some better stats -less disasters etc but the fact of the matter is that production -time lines -money -loyaly bonuses etc are often first proirty and that's how big business mostly work -It's a fine line .
Kiwis working in Aussie are just as vulnerable as other workers , if the management commitment looses its focus it's the same old problem ,the risk goes up and men and women get hurt.The old saying is - is it the carrot or the stick that works in safety(that's behaviour)
It depends who is holding the carrot !!
Osh and Aussie Workplace H&S say it's the stick(fines)
That's the way to get the message through - even that still has not worked -I suggest a change of miindset -train staff the 8 causes of accidents 1day-1month-1year and pay a bonus as well (the carrot) would that help ? I'm sure it would go a long way!!
That would be management commitment
It could work on both sides of the Tasman
Really has Mrs Callaghan comments really got anything to do with safety ?
Even safety experts would beg to to differ !
People will go home after work
20/08/2012 12:37:26 a.m.
I take exception to Mrs Callaghans comments, she is suggesting that by Australian mining companies hiring FIFO workers from NZ that they raise their chances of an incident. I've been FIFO to Aussie for 7 years and work alongside a lot of nationalities, all who come to work young and keen, including Aussies. Every place I've worked over there, Brisbane port, Karratha, Port Hedland, Mackay, I've always been inducted and given safety instructions along with all others, so esentially everyone is at the same level of safety. To suggest that Kiwi's lower the safety is pathetic, generally the Kiwis' working over there are of a fairly high caliber, as most Kiwi workers generally are. Of the 168 serious injuries, how many were deliberately attributed to Kiwi workers?
Would this be the beginning of stopping the slid of tradesmen leaving for better money and conditions in Australia rather than encourage them to stay, perhaps better money might be a start, I'd suggest a lot of overseas workers would return for a bit more money.
19/08/2012 7:49:06 p.m.
this is just a media stunt to stop kiwis going offshore good luck with that nz is costing to much look at the price of power etc
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