Miners urged to monitor severe weather patterns

Extreme heatwaves have caused more deaths in Australia than all other natural hazards combined, with miners particularly at risk, according to New South Wales Heatwave SubPlan.

Heat wave events often correspond with other high risk periods, such as extreme fire danger – another weather factor that must be considered at mines and petroleum sites.

The New South Wales Resources Regulator stated that mines needed to consider the impact of severe weather to prepare for this period based on long-range weather predictions.

The regulator recommended mining operations to prepare for both extreme heat and storms and heavy rainfall this summer, as Australia is hit by a La Niña weather pattern.

They also need to remain informed about localised events and real-time updates, while establishing resilient infrastructure, plans and contingencies and training workers so they are ready before severe weather events occur.

“It is essential that mines and petroleum sites develop an adequate level of response capability based on the risks identified,” the regulator stated.

“Due to the nature of severe weather events, it is likely that the event may not be isolated to the mine or petroleum site.

“It is important that the arrangements at the mine or petroleum site are interoperable with the emergency services.”

To avoid further injuries caused by weather conditions, the regulator said work should be planned to ensure workers were not adversely affected by conditions such as extreme heat, with specific planning for different areas of the mine site.

This includes maintaining effective and up to date communication with employees, keeping isolated workers contactable at all times to ensure they receive high risk event warnings and are able to be located in the event of an emergency.

“Mine and petroleum site operators must ensure they have adequately assessed the risks associated with severe weather events and have suitable and sufficient safety management, emergency response and recovery plans in place,” the regulator stated.

“As severe weather is often infrequent and localised, it is important that everyone on a mine or petroleum site, including contractors and visitors are made aware of the site’s emergency plan, emergency response and rescue systems.”

Last week, Manuka Resources’ Wonawinta silver mine in New South Wales was hit by a severe storm and strong winds.

Manuka endured damage to infrastructure and a four to five-day plant shutdown, however with no human injury.

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