NSW probes rise in serious injuries

The New South Wales mining sector has experienced a steady increase in serious injuries, mostly at underground mines.

A third of all serious injuries reported from 2017 to 2020 were hand, fingers or wrist injuries, which are double the injuries of any other bodily location.

Forty-five per cent of the hand, fingers or wrist injuries were found in the underground coal sector, where head or neck and upper limbs injuries have also climbed.

Most of these occurred in the Hunter and South-eastern regions between 7am and 3pm on weekdays.

Eighty per cent of all serious injuries reported were caused by hits by moving objects or falls, trips and slips.

The New South Wales Resources Regulator stated that multiple factors contributed to incident and injury notifications.

“These include (but are not limited to) inherent risk factors specific to sector, operation type and mine, and various other internal and external factors,” it stated in the mine safety performance report for the 2019-20 financial year.

“In addition, because of the relatively small sample size, it was not possible to draw any reliable conclusions about the case of any of the changes identified during the past three years.”

The number of serious injuries reported to the regulator increased from 78 in 2017-18, to 94 in the following period and to 106 in 2019-20.

Only small increases were seen in the surface coal and extractive sector since 2017-18.

The regulator has set the reduction of serious injuries risks and fatalities as one of its goals for 2021-24.

It plans to keep high levels of inspection activities and concentrate more on the root causes and maximum consequences of an incident than on surface causes.