Managing fatigue in coalmines: report

Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Managing fatigue in coalmines: report

A team of inspectors from the NSW Resources Regulator has assessed fatigue management practices in the state’s coalmines.

Mine operators have identified fatigue as a contributing factor to numerous incidents in the mining industry that have compromised worker safety.

Those working in the mining industry must often clock on for long, irregular hours in an environment that is considered high risk. Mental and physical fatigue both have the capacity to reduce alertness and performance, which can lead to accidents, injury or even death.

The findings of the targeted assessments, which were carried out at 15 open-cut coalmines during 2017–2018, have been compiled into a report that was released in February. Targeted assessments included both desktop and on-site evaluation.

They revealed some worrying trends, including that, in general, workers at some mines are not being provided with enough information and training with regards to the effects of fatigue, and how it can be managed. In addition, some supervisors are not being trained on the implementation of fatigue management controls.

More specific findings indicate that supervisors were consistently working hours in excess of the limits defined in the fatigue management plan, while control measures had been identified but not implemented consistently across all areas of the mine site for all workers.

Inspectors found that crib breaks were identified as a control, but there were no systems in place to monitor and verify that crib breaks were being taken by workers.

Additionally, napping in cabins of mobile plant during second crib was common practice to manage fatigue in workers on night shift, yet the process was not identified in risk assessments nor documented in the fatigue management plan.

According to the report, the targeted assessment program (TAP) “provides a planned, intelligence-driven and proactive approach to assessing how effective an operation is when it comes to controlling critical risk”.

To read the full report, click here.

Image credit: © Tiplyashin

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