Video to heighten safety for opal mines

The New South Wales (NSW) Resources Regulator has published a video to increase awareness in opal mining of the risks associated with working at height and working in shafts.

Resources Regulator acting executive director Garvin Burns said falls from height are a significant safety risk that can lead to serious injury or death.

“We are committed to working closely with the opal industry to improve safety outcomes,” Burns said.

“The falls from height safety awareness video was produced in partnership with the Lightning Ridge mining community and highlights the impact that safety incidents can have on family, friends and colleagues.

“Within the past four years in the Lightning Ridge Mineral Claims District, there have been four mine operators fall from access ladders resulting in significant injuries and two fatalities.”

The video includes an interview with a miner who was badly injured in a fall in an opal shaft and an interview with the partner of a miner who was fatally injured at Grawin in 2020.

“The video encourages opal miners to understand the importance of safety when accessing their mine using ladders, including the use of a fall arrest, such as a harness, to improve their safety,” Burns said.

“Many miners work alone without fully appreciating the risks of falls when working at height.

“We encourage the industry to visit the regulator’s website to access information, improve compliance and increase safe work practices.”

The Resources Regulator has implemented a compliance program that provides assistance and education to over 3000 claim holders in Lightning Ridge and the surrounding areas.

Opal mining takes place within a mineral claim and may use underground or open cut mining methods.

Mining generally occurs along defined low ridgelines or ‘ridge country’ where the opal bearing material is closer to the surface, and there are more than 200 distinct opal fields that occur on the ridge country.

The main opal field groups located at Lightning Ridge are Coocoran, Grawin/Carters, Glengarry/Sheepyards, Wyoming, Jag Hill and Mehi.

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