The Western Australian mining industry has experienced a rise in lost time injuries, according to Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) statistics.
Western Australian mining companies reported 429 lost time injuries during 2019-20, which include four more injuries than the previous year.
However, despite the small rise, the overall mining lost time injury frequency rate improved by 5 per cent during 2019-20, as outlined in the Safety Performance in the Western Australian Mineral Industry report.
Of the 429 lost time injuries, 378 were considered serious, which is defined by DMIRs as “an injury that disables a worker for two weeks or more”, with 87 of these involving an amputation, fracture or crush injury.
Hand injuries made up the largest proportion of serious injuries in Western Australian underground mines (15 per cent), followed by injuries to arm not otherwise classified (13 per cent) and ankle and trunk injuries (10 per cent).
Fractures were the highest nature of injury in underground mines with 12 injuries, followed by sprains or strains (nine injuries) and lacerations (three injuries).
For surface mines, back injuries accounted for the largest proportion of serious injuries (at 55 injuries or 16 per cent), followed by 54 hand injuries (also 16 per cent) and arms (11 per cent).
Sprains or strains were most popular in surface mines with 181 injuries, followed by fractures (52 injuries), lacerations (20) and crush injuries (15) rounded out the list.
There were also two fatalities at an iron ore operation and a nickel mine in Western Australia during 2019-20, which was the same as 2018-19.
This resulted in a fatal injury incidence rate of 0.015 per one thousand of employees.
“The department maintains the view that no fatal accident is acceptable and that a fatal injury incidence rate of zero is achievable,” DMIRS stated.
“While there had been a long term overall decrease in the number of fatalities per thousand employees, in recent years the average rate of improvement has slowed. (The) fatal incidence rate in the last 10 years (varied) between 0.05 and 0.”
Western Australia is working to the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 to reduce its fatalities due to injury by 20 per cent.