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5 STEP GUIDE TO MOVE INTO MINING

March 15, 2024

As an industry underpinned by danger and risk, mining in Australia requires a qualified workforce capable of assessing and dealing with danger. This is elevated by a skilled team of work health and safety (WHS) professionals that guide, implement, and generate safety measures. Within the mining industry, these measures are 10x the standard of typical WHS procedures. When dealing with serious risks to life and limb, mining workplaces must consider a plethora of scenarios and develop corresponding solutions. To provide context, Work Safe QLD determined 126 hazards commonly associated with mining, a few major ones include:

  • Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis (The black lung)
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Work at heights
  • Cancer-causing carcinogens
  • Phosphine gas
  • Respirable crystalline silica
  • Verbal, physical, and sexual harassment

 

 

Professionals in this area don’t just enforce regulations; they actively contribute to shaping a workplace culture that prioritises the well-being and safety of every employee. This evolution signifies a move towards greater accountability and a commitment to achieving the highest standards of safety and health in the mining industry.

We’ve done a ton of research into the day-to-day of a WHS representative in the mines, here’s the 10 most common tasks you’ll undertake.

 

1. Comprehensive Planning

In both surface and underground mining, it is crucial strategies for safety are put in place. By dedicating time to develop comprehensive plans the process can proceed smoothly, ensuring the safety and well-being of the entire team.

Multiple skill sets are consulted to determine these strategies in order to mitigate uncertainties and enhance operational efficiency. Leveraging technology can facilitate this, as specialised software can visualise various outcomes for proposed plans. Consulting digital models enables exploration of diverse scenarios, instilling confidence in executing well-considered methods.

 

2. Maintain Thorough Standards

Conducting inspections and adhering to mining regulations can establish strong standards for workers, fostering a culture of responsibility and vigilance. By diligently enforcing safety rules, safety protocols become an integral part of the work routine, rather than an additional task.

Promoting a positive outlook on safety standards can make checklists and protocols essential components in the eyes of workers. Encouraging input from workers regarding areas for improvement cultivates a safer work environment, with a shared commitment to ensuring mining practices remain secure.

 

 

3. Enforce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All physically demanding jobs require specific PPE. Complete protection safeguards miners against impacts, chemicals, extreme temperatures, and prevents respiratory diseases caused by dust inhalation.

Essential items like durable clothing and steel-toed footwear are crucial for ensuring worker safety. Tailored hard hats designed for the specific nature of mining projects provide additional protection against severe injuries, particularly from rock falls, which are a frequent cause of accidents. It’s essential to wear all necessary equipment before entering hazardous areas.

 

4. Regular Equipment Upkeep

If left unchecked, failure of crucial parts such as valves or brakes can occur. Outdated or faulty equipment poses significant hazards to a worksite, but regular maintenance and cleaning can ensure machinery remains in good condition.

Build up of dirt and grime on tools can influence their performance and compromise their function. Cleaning and lubricating equipment regularly are essential steps in maintaining them. Overseeing the regular upkeep of equipment is an essential task within WHS.

 

5. Improve Visibility on Site

Maintaining clarity from on-site vehicles to underground work areas, is essential for minimising accidents. Underground illumination plays a crucial role in facilitating visual inspections, especially for pre- and post-blasting procedures. It’s important to ensure that personal lighting devices and stationary lamps are weather-resistant to provide consistent lighting and prevent unexpected blackouts.

Adequate visibility is also crucial for preventing vehicle collisions. Properly functioning headlights on machinery and mobile equipment serve as important safety features, alerting drivers to the presence of nearby personnel and reducing the risk of dangerous accidents.

 

6. Safe Lifting Procedures

Working in confined spaces often requires awkward positioning, leading to potential musculoskeletal. The demanding nature of mining work exacerbates these stresses.

Underground operations involve overhead tasks and repetitive movements, which can cause muscle fatigue. However, developing precautions like using assistive devices and maintaining proper form can help reduce the risk.

 

7. Manage Vibration and Noise

Strategic drilling techniques can help mitigate tremors, particularly by using buffer holes to reduce the intensity of sound and shaking. Millisecond blasting also delays explosions slightly, further minimising their impact.

Implementing suppression supports and blast mats can effectively reduce noise levels and absorb the force from detonations, helping contain emissions of gas to ensure a safer working environment.

 

8. Harsh Temperatures

The wide range of temperatures experienced by miners can exert significant strain on their bodies. Mines, whether for gold, diamond, or coal, can range from freezing cold to scorching hot conditions, depending on their depth and location.

To mitigate the risk of cold or heat stress, miners must stay hydrated, wear sufficient PPE, and take regular breaks.

 

9. Ventilate Harmful Gas

Mines naturally contain harmful gases, which can pose a risk of poisoning to workers if inhaled in high concentrations. Some of these gases also have the potential to ignite under certain conditions.

Being aware of the symptoms of gas poisoning, such as headaches and difficulty breathing from carbon monoxide exposure, can help identify leaks early and prevent harm. Gas detectors provide a reliable way to monitor air quality and detect harmful gases.

Installing efficient ventilation systems can help manage these risks by moving fresh air into the mine and diluting harmful gases to safer levels, ensuring the air remains safe to breathe.

 

10. Communication

Sharing updates on the status and developments of mining operations is vital. Having immediate access to communication tools enables workers to alert each other about unsafe zones or incidents right away.

Signage that identifies dangerous spots can help visually indicate which areas are safe, and explicit labeling can guide workers on the correct use and timing for their equipment and tools.

While mobile devices are often used to share information, their signals may be weak or absent in underground settings. Alternative on-site communication systems offer a reliable communication method.

 

Career Overview & Salaries

1. Mining Supervisor: Oversee efficient mine operations and attainment of production goals. Address any issues or incidents as they arise, and coordinate training for both new and existing personnel. Ensure strict adherence to safety and environmental regulations.

$175,000 – $195,000

 

2. Manager or Safety Consultant: Manage workplace hazards and risks, developing and implementing programs to reduce workplace and environmental hazards, including chemical and physical risks.

$130,000 – $150,000

 

3. Occupational Health and Safety Officer: Inspect equipment, enforce safe work practices, including the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and evaluate work areas. Conduct employee training, identify potential health and safety hazards, and assist in implementing control measures.

$100,000 – $123,000

 

4. Hygiene Specialist: Identify and investigate occupational/industrial hygiene issues, including chemical, physical, and biological hazards present in the workplace.

$100,000 – $150,000

 

5. Risk Management Specialist: Develop strategic guidelines and parameters for business operations to effectively address significant occupational health and safety threats within a workplace.

$135,000 – $155,000

 

6. Mine Inspector: Professionals holding statutory positions responsible for conducting on-site inspections and investigations in mines to identify potentially hazardous conditions, investigate accidents and incidents, and determine their root causes.

$140,000 – $200,000

 

The typical salary for a Work Health and Safety officer exceeds $100,000 annually (with certain positions in mining safety potentially offering over $550,000!), representing a wage that is 90 percent higher than the average across all professions in Australia.

 

 

5 STEP GUIDE TO MOVE INTO MINING

 

1. Obtain the right qualifications and licenses:

The right qualifications and licenses will accelerate your chances of obtaining a role in the mines. Consider upskilling through a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety or going the extra mile with a Diploma in Work Health and Safety. Other qualifications like First Aid or CPR may also be required for WHS roles. Other roles in the mines may require more specific training, licenses, and qualifications.

 

2. Practical experience always helps:

While most roles don’t require mining-specific experience, they often look for relevant industry experience. For example, WHS experience in construction sites or high-risk areas will be beneficial. Apprentice and traineeship opportunities can provide you with this if more definitive roles aren’t available to you.

 

3. Look into graduate programs and available positions across companies:

Understanding what skills and knowledge are in demand will help you tailor your career to what the industry needs. Graduate programs can introduce you to various fields within mining, giving you the opportunity to expand your abilities and foster a set of versatile skills.

 

4. Be prepared to answer tough questions:

Your ability to handle strong personalities, prejudice on site, experience with challenging situations, skills in teamwork, and technical skills may be questioned – be prepared with strong answers.

 

5. Strength of character:

Working in the mines no matter your role can be mentally demanding and draining, having the right perspective will assist you to adapt to your new lifestyle. Ensuring you have strong support systems around you and have the right resources to support a FIFO career will help you maintain a positive work-life balance.

 

 

How We Can Help

At Techskill Academy, we offer dozens of nationally recognised courses that provide students with comprehensive skills and knowledge suited to dozens of industries. Most particularly, our courses in WHS are suited to an expansive career in the mining industry. Consider gaining a qualification in First Aid and CPR as well to enhance your appeal to potential employers.

 

Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety

The Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety (BSB41419) requires the completion of 10 units comprising of 5 core units and 5 electives. Students will have up to 12 months to complete this program.

 

 

Diploma of Work Health and Safety

The Diploma of Work Health and Safety (BSB51319) requires the completion of 10 units comprising of 5 core units and 5 electives. Students will have up to 12 months to complete this program.

 

 

Mental Health in the Construction Workplace

This course aims to offer a comprehensive guide to provide support for mental health, tailored to the construction industry. From stress management techniques to building resilience, these resources empower individuals and organisations to prioritise mental well-being and provide peer-to-peer support in the workplace. Mental Health in the Construction Workplace (course) requires the completion of 8 topics. Students will have unlimited time to complete this course. Allow up to 2 hours to complete all topics.

 

Diploma of Drilling Oil and Gas (Onshore)

Completing our Diploma of Drilling Oil & Gas (Onshore) RII50820 will allow you to move into a more senior operational role in the oil and gas industry. This is an RPL ONLY program.

 

Diploma of Well Servicing Operations

Our Diploma of Well Servicing Operations RII51020 is the ideal qualification if you want to move into a more senior operational role or formalise your existing expertise. This is an RPL ONLY program.

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