This is the first article of a six-part series exploring the trends and key themes that are shaping the future of the mining industry. In this article, we talk about Mining Health and safety as it is of paramount importance in the mining industry.

Protection and prevention in the workplace are crucial in achieving operational success and reaching a zero-risk industry. The health and safety challenges faced in mining include:

  • Mental health 
  • Fatalities 
  • Disabilities 
  • Injuries 
  • First aid cases 
  • Disease
  • Regulatory compliance 
  • Productivity 
  • Costs 

Approaching mining health and safety – Mental health matters! 

As many people in the industry work long hours in rural or remote locations, there are focused efforts on the positive mental health of mine workers and more opportunities for communities to discuss and develop different ways in tackling the issue. 

The health and safety of people working in mining is a shared commitment of everybody in the resources sector. This includes physical health and safety, but also ensuring people’s mental wellbeing. 82% of organisations that empower their frontline workers see higher levels of job satisfaction amongst employees. It is important to ensure workers feel supported when carrying out their roles. 

COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the pressures on workers, especially those who need to remain on-site or operate underground. Workers may feel under pressure in their roles due to a variety of reasons, including poor communication and collaboration, complex operations, dated and ineffective technology, inefficient processes, poor change management, a lack of training and skills growth, and more. 

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest the right tools and technology that deliver meaningful and real-time data can play a vital role in empowering teams and employees. 

What are the ‘two faces’ of a zero-harm workplace?

The ‘zero-harm’ concept is a specific and highly tailored approach to workplace health and safety that ensures no individual is exposed to potential harm. This means that the mine has been designed in a way that ensures that there is little to no risk involved in all operations. 

On the flipside, zero-harm is also seen as unsafe in its development as it is seen to lack cohesion between businesses. We recently had a workplace health and safety conversation with Sally North, Director of the WorkSafe Service Industries and Specialists Directorate which falls under the Government of Western Australia’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. Her advice on the zero-harm workplace is as follows,

“I think the aim of zero harm workplaces should be approached with caution, as it is important to ensure reporting of hazards and incidents is encouraged, and there is a risk with a ‘zero harm’ goal that people might underreport. However, a focus on continual improvement in terms of hazard management, including proactively assessing the controls in place around critical risks, will help workplaces get better safety and health outcomes and manage risk.”

What are some of the emerging realities of my health and safety?

There are some emerging realities as we work towards continuous improvement in mining in the next century. These include:

  • We will mine deeper, thinner seams and orebodies 
  • We will encounter more discontinuous reserves
  • New miners will join the workforce
  • The industry will face even tougher competition 
  • Fewer companies will exist, but they will be multinationals 

What are the common obstacles to employee wellbeing in mining?

There are several barriers to employee wellbeing in the mining industry. These common obstacles include:

  • Poor communication and collaboration
  • Dated and ineffective technology 
  • Inefficient processes 
  • Security stress
  • Poor change management
  • Lack of training/skills growth

What can be done to improve workers mining health and safety?

It is important to ensure that the organization has the tools, policies and procedures in place to fulfil the ‘psychological contract’. These are some of the steps that can be taken to empower mineworkers:

  • Keep them informed about a leadership decision 
  • Make sure they always have access to the latest information 
  • Equip them with the right tools, processes and training 
  • Offer training to drive adoption and usage of tools and processes 
  • Implement a cultural shift from the top down so they can shape the business from the front line 
  • Empower them to make important decisions at the moment 
  • Support them to be more productive, so they have more time to complete work
  • Schedule regular check-ins to understand where optimization is required

What is required for continuous improvements in the mining industry as a whole?

There are impediments to continuous improvements, however, to reach the maximum potential and accelerate growth, the mining industry must:

  • Seek new mining methods and new technologies
  • Organize and manage work more effectively
  • Demand more health and safety features on mining equipment 
  • Ensure that best work practices are integral in accomplishing work
  • Seek breakthroughs in handling some of the most persistent problems
  • Incorporate health, safety, and environmental aspects in every facet of planning 
  • Set goals and objectives systematically to drive continuous improvements across the board

Global Road Technology -advocacy and total mine site management

Our efforts toward mining health and safety have specifically targeted the plight of dust diseases in the mining industry. We continue to advocate for dealing with dust at its source and progressively develop innovative solutions that solve challenges in the following mining areas:

  • Exploration 
  • Excavation 
  • Drill and blast 
  • Haul road management 
  • Transport and destination 
  • Broadscale dust and erosion control 
  • Underground, transfer and processing
  • Long term roads, LV and yard dust control


The prospects for progress look very promising. To improve mine health and safety the best path for success will be realized through collaborations in research and development linking communities, operators, labour, academia and government. The goal should be to make mining health and safety a model of excellence in all respects with everyone’s input. 

The second article of the six-part series explores mining engineering as part of the trends and key themes that are shaping the future of the mining industry.

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