What mining safety products might you need if you get hit by a sinkhole?

How to ensure mine safety in your own back yard


Safety is a huge issue for the mining industry, but what about for the rest of us? You’d think that the dangers of mining wouldn’t effect those who don’t venture out to mines, but what about when mining comes to you?

You never know what instability lurks in the ground beneath you.

Take the example of Lynnette and Ray McKay from Ipswich, Queensland, whose back yard fell into a 15-metre-wide sinkhole when an old mine shaft collapsed underneath it in August. And in 2014 a similar-sized hole, also thought to be caused by an abandoned mine shaft, opened up underneath a house in Swansea Heads, New South Wales.

Sinkholes happen naturally when caves form, usually in limestone, close to the ground’s surface. When the roof of the cave becomes too thin it collapses, suddenly creating an unexpected and often sizeable pit. But this process can also happen artificially, when an underground mine collapses in a similar fashion.

The risk of this happening to you will of course depend on the mining history of your area, but you never know what instability might be lurking in the ground beneath you. If a collapse does happen at your home your first priority should be safety (and then maybe a call to the insurance company once you’ve got over the shock of your new situation). Here are some immediate ways to regain a level of safety if the ground gives way underneath you:


The Building Code of Australia requires a handrail on decks a metre or more above the ground. An unintended pit could cause a much higher fall than that, so handrails are an obvious safety feature to stop anyone plummeting in as they admire your new garden feature. Locker Group handrails can be set up in a range of custom configurations to suit even the most irregularly-shaped hole.

Mining safety isn't usually an issue in the suburbs, but the unexpected can happen.Mining safety isn’t usually an issue in the suburbs, but the unexpected can happen.

Platforms and walkways

When inspecting the damage or checking details for the insurance forms, you’re going to need somewhere to stand. Unfortunately your lawn or patio are no longer to be trusted, and so some sturdy walkways or platforms will be necessary. A good product for this is Gridwalk, a versatile industrial flooring that can be customised to any shape, and either welded to a structure or easily attached with removable clips.

Given that your new garden structures need to be used not only by mining experts but also by inexperienced laypeople, you may want to ensure a more secure footing. In this case an anti-slip flooring like Safe-T-Perf is the solution. Its perforated surface has 360-degree skid resistance for people walking in any direction. Safe-T-Perf is also available as preformed stair treads which are ideal for quick, easy installation.


You weren’t expecting to own a pit, but your in-laws will expect it even less when they pop over for a visit.

To ensure safety you’ve got to keep people out of your new mine. You weren’t expecting this situation, but your in-laws will be expecting it even less when they pop over for a surprise visit. Make sure any steep drops or unstable ground are adequately fenced off to keep people out who aren’t prepared to be there. Our woven wire mesh offers plenty of fencing options, or our expanded security mesh provides a more dissuasive option if your in-laws don’t take a hint well.

The best solution to a dangerous situation is to avoid that situation altogether. Do your research when buying a home (although with that said, the Ipswich hole was caused by a shaft that hadn’t been recorded properly), and don’t go mining unless you’re a miner. But if you are a miner, or if unforeseen circumstances mean you have some sudden work to do, please get in touch today.


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