Here's how to keep your mining personnel safe.

Are you forgetting these mine safety rules?

Mining is one of Australia's longest-lived and most well-known industries. It's also a huge employer – according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 173,388 people were working in different types of mining across the country in 2014-15.

With so many people involved, and so much at stake, it's vital that those in charge of mining operations are able to keep their staff safe on the job. In this edition of our deep dive series, we'll delve into the history of safety in mining, the key risks to today's personnel, and the rules you should follow to ensure your employees are safe at all times.

Mining is still on of Australia's most  dangerous industries.Employees have a duty care to minimise risks to mining staff.

The recent Australian mine safety record

There are inherent risks involved with the mining – staff work in proximity to heavy machinery, often have to perform physically strenuous tasks and operate in difficult conditions.

While significant efforts have been made in recent years to reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths across the sector, mining still has some of the highest worker fatality rates of any industry. In fact, in 2016, mining was sixth in the list of industries with the highest number of employee fatalities, according to Safe Work Australia. It's clear, therefore, that more needs to be done.

It's important to note that workplace health and safety (WHS) in the mining industry isn't regulated by the Australian Government, but rather by individual states and territories. Here's where to look for legislative frameworks in your state:

  • Victoria – Chapter 5 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007.
  • New South Wales – Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Regulation 2014, and Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Act 2013.
  • Tasmania – Mines Work Health and Safety (Supplementary Requirements) Regulations 2012, and Mines Work Health and Safety (Supplementary Requirements) Act 2012.
  • South Australia – Chapter 10 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA).
  • West Australia – Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995, and Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994.
  • Northern Territory – Chapter 10 of the Mines Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations, and Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act.
  • Queensland – Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001, Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999, Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Regulation 2001 and Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999.
  • Australian Capital Territory – Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, and Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

As a result, precise compliance regulations will vary depending on where your operation is based. Rather than simply parroting these laws back to you, we've come up with some simple but vital mine safety rules based on the four key risks associated with working in mines identified by Safe Work Australia. They are:

  • Slips, trips and falls.
  • Being hit by moving objects or machinery.
  • Body stressing and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Working with high risk plant.

We'll examine each of these to analyse where the risks come from, and suggest possible mitigation approaches.

Every year miners in Australia are killed by dangerous equipment and materials.Mining involves a lot of potentially dangerous equipment.

Rule 1: Ensure safe access around your mining site

This section will cover two from the above list of hazards – slips, trips and falls, and being hit by moving objects or machinery. The reason for the grouping is that these refer to the movement of people, materials and machinery around a facility, and because they're often the cause of the most concerning incidents.

For example, in its 2017-18 Mine Safety Performance Report, the NSW Resources Regulator found that, together, these two mechanisms were responsible for 75% of all serious injuries recorded in coal mines and metalliferous and extractive mines in the state.

So, what steps can you take?

1. Provide adequate access ways 

Having a purpose-built access way is useful for reducing the risks of slips, trips and falls as well as collisions between staff and objects/machinery. Locker has teamed up with Webforge to supply their industry-leading handrail and grating solutions, which are perfectly suited for mining walkway applications. Key elements of these products include:

  • A variety of tread patterns – All Webforge walkways are designed to offer excellent traction, you can improve upon plain gratings by adding a serrated tread. This will give employees extra grip, further reducing the chance of accidents.
  • Different load bar and cross bar pitches – You can alter these depending on the load you need your access way to bear, meaning you can always be confident it has sufficient strength for your application.
  • Handrails – Especially if you're walkway is at height, handrails provide a vital extra point of contact for users, again reducing the chances of serious accidents resulting from falls.

Webforge's most well-known offering in this space is the Monowills™ Link. This is a modular railing system boasting high quality and strength that can be delivered as a complete system or in component form to provide great flexibility for site managers. The system is wholly compliant with Australian Standard 1657, which governs requirements for the design, selection, construction and installation of fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders. 

2. Provide thorough briefings

This relates specifically to preventing personnel from being hit by machinery and moving objects. Your staff should all know when and where machinery will be operating, and what it will be doing. Having this knowledge will mean they take proper precautions when entering more dangerous areas of the site, and aren't taken by surprise by vehicles and machinery.

3. Enforce high-vis clothing

While we'll come back to PPE in more detail later, but here it's important to highlight the importance of enforcing high-vis clothing in your mining operation. This can mean the difference between a pedestrian staff member being seen or not seen by someone operating a vehicle or heavy equipment.

Locker can provide access ways to help staff get around mining sites safely.Injuries and fatalities are caused on mining sites when staff are hit by vehicles and machinery.

Rule 2: Think of your staff when providing equipment

Safe Work Australia reports that body stressing accounted for 39% of mining workers' compensation claims between 2001–02 and 2014–15. A lot of these incidents were the result of muscular stress from handling, carrying or putting down objects.

As a result you need to be conscious of your employees when investing in the equipment necessary for carrying out daily tasks. 

Mitigation techniques for reducing bodystressing risk are:

1. Ensure proper training

Before members of staff start work, you need to be confident that they know the proper techniques for lifting and carrying heavy items. If you don't run your own courses on how to do this, there are plenty of WHS specialists out there who can come into your team and provide it.

2. Opt for lightweight equipment where possible

To help reduce the risk of straining on employees, try and find lightweight equipment where you can. A great idea here is using Locker's Tufflex flexible poly coated screens. These are far lighter and easier to maneuver than traditional wire alternatives, making the job of getting them into place much less physically taxing. 

However, this doesn't come at the expense of quality – depending on the application, these screens can also have double the life expectancy of wire.

3. Consider noise

Mines are traditionally loud environments, which poses a long-term risk to employees' hearing. While the correct ear protection is important here, you can also make seemingly minor alterations to equipment that can result in a far quieter working environment.

One such change can be switching to rubber for a variety of different applications. Rubber wear liners, for example, not only reduce noise of operating screens, but also increase the wear life of machinery.

Staff need to be aware of the risks on your mining site, and receive full induction training.Ensure workers are properly briefed about the dangers on your mining operation.

Rule 3: Invest in proper PPE

An absolutely vital step to protecting workers from a dangerous plant is investing in and enforcing PPE. While you should read your local state legislation to find out exactly what you need to provide to staff, the fundamentals include:

  • Head and face protection: This includes a hard hat, ear protection, safety glasses and either a half or full face mask. Masks prevent miners from inhaling potentially dangerous gases while working underground. Whether your personnel need a full or half mask will depend on the levels of gas detected at your site.
  • Upper-body protection – There are plenty of designated mining suits out there which will provide workers with something strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of daily life in the mine. These suits should also have multiple reflective strips on them to help employees be seen in darker areas. Gloves are also important and need to offer a balance between strength and flexibility.
  • Legs and feet protection – Steel capped, knee high boots are important for protecting feet, while soles should feature anti-slip properties to reduce fall risks.

While there's no getting away from the fact that mining involves risks, it's your responsibility to keep your staff safe while they're working for you. To find out more about how to reduce hazards in a mining environment, or to find out more about our purpose built mining equipment, get in touch with the team at Locker today. 

This is the finished facade for the Monash Caulfield library

Case study: Monash University Caulfield Library

As Monash's second biggest campus, Caulfield offers students a diverse variety of learning opportunities in a welcoming and engaging backdrop.

In 2013, however, it was becoming apparent that the campus library was no longer coping with the sheer demand from learners. A lack of space, combined with a desire from the university to upgrade this important facility, meant it was time for a redevelopment.

John Wardle Architects took the lead on redesigning the structure, and called on Locker to provide products for the facade. Let's take a look at how this project unfolded, and the role our team played in bringing the new library to life.

The brief

As well as doubling the number of study seats and ensuring the library had the latest fixtures and equipment, Monash wanted to update the frontage. John Wardle took the brutalist facade, which consisted of brick panels set within a concrete frame, and designed something quite spectacular.

The architects had three primary objectives here:

  1. To create a transitional zone – The designers wanted the students to journey through different zones as they enter the building.
  2. To provide natural light to the interior – It's widely acknowledged that natural light is conducive to studying, and the university also wanted students to have views while they work
  3. To meet sustainability goals – Finally, the facade would play an important role in helping the building reach its sustainability objectives.

The products

Locker worked closely with John Wardle to source a product that would fulfill these requirements, eventually landing on Transit F281 stainless steel mesh. This wire mesh curtain provided the perfect balance between allowing students to see out from inside the library, while sheltering the building from the heat of the Australian sun.

Shading was particularly vital, as the entrance way has a west facing aspect, which means in the afternoon it bears the brunt of the afternoon sunlight. This comes with the risk of the library heating up , meaning the HVAC system would have to work over time to maintain a comfortable internal temperature. Of course, this would raise the structure's energy consumption. Wire mesh, however, allows light in while also permitting air to circulate, keeping the building cool.

Locker's mesh products can be easily customised to suit a variety of different settings and tasks.

Transit F281 is also perfect for creating the transitional zones that John Wardle was seeking. The product is ideal for delineating zones meaning that the students pass through a variety of settings as they enter the building.

Locker's mesh products can be easily customised to suit a variety of different settings and tasks. We can manufacture these products in steel, aluminium and brass, and tailor aspects including wire profiles, weave options and mesh thickness. While in this case mesh was used to add an extra element to the facade, it's equally well suited to adding a touch of class to interiors – separating spaces and sectioning off areas for functions.

Wire mesh can provide sunshading while also making the facade eyecatching.Locker's Transit F281 was chosen for the facade of Monash Caulfield Library.

The challenges

The sheer scale of the facade meant that the curtains Locker created for Monash Caulfield Library were to be the biggest ever made using Transit F281. This presented a unique challenge to our manufacturing team, who had to come up with a way of attaining this extended vertical drop. To achieve the desired result, our team stitched the standard size mesh together to create one longer weave, resulting in a flawless mesh curtain that met the architect's brief.

On top of this, mesh density was also a key consideration. The curtains needed to be dense enough to feed into John Wardle's sustainability modelling, while simultaneously allowing the students to see through them. Again, our ability to customise our products meant that adapting to this request wasn't a problem.

Locker has close ties with architectural firms and ensures all aspects of a project are exactly to brief.Locker worked closely with the project architects to meet a challenging brief.

The outcome

The transformation of Monash Caulfield Library has to be seen to be believed. The building has gone from a side note in the campus layout to becoming its beating heart.  

Not only can more students now take advantage of the quiet study area, but the structure itself is a testament to the ambition the university embodies for its students. For the Locker team, the project was a great test of our skills in meeting a challenging and first-of-its-kind brief. It was satisfying to see a product that we have great faith in being used in such an exciting and novel way, and achieving excellent results in the process.

For more information on how Locker can work with you on your next architectural project, get in touch with our team today. Alternatively, browse more case studies to explore our other past projects. 

Locker was involved in creating the facade for the Australian Institute of Music.

Case study: Australian Institute of Music

The Australian Institute of Music (AIM) is the country's leading independent provider of education in the music, entertainment and performing arts industries. As such, Locker was thrilled to be involved in the creation of a facade for the Sydney campus building – a challenging yet rewarding project that put our products and expertise to use in equal measures.

In this case study, we'll dive into the story behind the frontage, and how Locker worked with its partners to produce the exciting result.

The brief

The client wanted a facade that fulfilled two key criteria:

  • It needed to reflect the purpose of the AIM as an educator in music and entertainment.
  • Due to the location in Sydney's trendy Surry Hills district, it also had to stand out and have a unique identity among other buildings in the area. 

To meet these objectives, the facade was to feature two images – one of a violinist, and the other depicting two dancers mid-routine. Locker was brought in to bring these designs to life, and do the technical work to ensure the frontage element of the project went off without a hitch.

Locker's Pic Perf product allows  architects to create unique designs on perforated metal.The architect wanted the facade to stand out among other buildings in the area.

The products

There was only ever going to be one product up to the unique requirements of this brief – Locker's Pic Perf perforated panels. This product allows architects to create striking, one of a kind facades by working in close consultation with Locker's experts. The images themselves are based on drawings which are then mapped onto the panels, using the perforations themselves to help the composition. 

The very essence of the Pic Perf range is that architects are only limited by their imagination.

In this instance, our team participated in a lot of onsite meetings with the builders, Dynabuild, and Joshua Farkash of Joshua Farkash & Associates. This was to ensure that the image sizes were correct, and that each was properly detailed in order to show depth.  

The very essence of the Pic Perf range is that architects are only limited by their imagination, making customisation of these products bread and butter to Locker's specialist team. Panels can be manufactured to fit any size facade, and we can also take into account how lighting will impact the image. 

The project

A few challenges presented themselves over the course of the AIM facade project. They were:

Producing the drawings: Computer-aided design (CAD) drawings are needed as a basis for producing Pic Perf panels. However, Dynabuild didn't have this capability, so Locker reached out to its network of contacts and engaged a third-party draftsmen to create these drawings. Getting this correct from the outset was crucial to ensuring that the panel layout and widths worked well with the images.

Wrapping the image around the building: The architect's brief required the image of the dancers to wrap around the corner of the facade. Achieving this effect demanded careful considerations from Locker's team to ensure the image appeared seamless across the edges of each panel.

Locker had to wrap the dancer image around the facade's edge without interrupting the flow.

Incorporating other building elements: The facade had a few windows & doors that the aluminium Pic Perf needed to form around. Again, this needed to be done without interrupting the flow of the image. This was made more complex by the fact that some panels had folds, others had return folds, some were at 45° to the frontage, and some didn't have any folds at all.

Installation: The AIM's location on one of the busiest streets in Sydney's CBD also meant that delivery and installation of the products required careful planning and collaboration between Locker and its project partners. 

The results

The combined Sydney and Melbourne campuses of the Australian Institute of Music cater for a total of 1,800 students. While those who enter the building on a daily basis may not know the story of how the facade came to be, there's no doubt that it stamps the building with a unique identity that allows it to stand out from the structures around it.

 For over 60 years, Locker has helped architects bring their visions to life through a range of innovative products and our technical expertise. We believe that close working relationships are key to successful project results, and that customisation should be part and parcel of a suppliers role. To find out more about our capabilities, get in touch with our team today. Alternatively explore some other examples of our past work.