Report: APP CMHS Project 4

CSIRO advises that the information contained in this comprises general statements based on scientific research. The reader is advised and needs to be aware that such information may be incomplete or unable to be used in any specific situation. No reliance or actions must therefore be made on that information without seeking prior expert professional, scientific and technical advice. To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using this publication (in part or in whole) and any information or material contained in it.

2.1.10. Hazard Management Plans

It must be recognised that there are two different mechanisms of harm or injury in the workplace; those that lead to simple and reversible injuries but could lead to a single fatality (depending on timing or chance); and those which lead to multiple fatalities and disasters (major loss of asset). Both situations are triggered by the loss of control of an energy source, though the quantum of energy in each case is usually significantly different.

Day to day control of workplace hazards is managed through the use of procedures, competent people and fit for purpose equipment in a controlled work environment – as reflected in the Nertney Wheel (Figure 2) or Work Process Model.

Figure 2 Nertney Wheel/Work Process Model

The control of major hazards with the potential to cause multiple fatalities also incorporates the four factors as indicated in the Work Process Model (above), but with the recognition that the loss of control of the work environment has catastrophic consequences and therefore adds another layer of protection in the form of Major or Principal Hazard Management Plans (MHMP or PHMP). It is necessary, from a risk management perspective, as illustrated earlier in this report; to implement design, engineering, procedural, training and protective equipment controls for such mining conditions. However, there is also a need to develop and implement contingency plans and decision making protocols to reduce the impact of such an event should it occur. These plans are specifically referred to within the legislation and relate to the potential for multiple fatality situations. Each mine is required to identify all possible situations which could result in multiple fatalities and develop a Hazard Management Plan for each potential eventuality. Some are specifically identified within the legislation; others are left to the mine to identify such events. For instance, Gas, Gas Drainage, Strata Control, Spontaneous Combustion and Ventilation are required Hazard Management Plans. A mine may also require an Inrush (Gas, Water or Mud) or Windblast Management Plan due to prevailing conditions at that mine.

A key component of all Major Hazard Management Plans is the Trigger Action Response Plan (TARP). TARPs are recognised from an operational and legal perspective as one of the primary reasons that the occurrence of underground mining disasters has reduced in Australia – since their introduction in the mid 1990’s. The main components of TARPs are: pre-set trigger levels at which specifically and previously identified actions must be implemented, actions defined for all personnel within the relevant part of the operation and ultimately trigger levels for the immediate evacuation of the mine, before catastrophic levels are reached. A critical component of the trigger for evacuation is that it is automatic – it does not rely on senior management or an expert technician to make a judgement. It is pre-determined such that whenever it occurs, the first person to become aware of the trigger situation initiates the evacuation. The triggering of this evacuation stage usually integrates into an emergency response action, typically detailed in a more generic Emergency Response Management Plan.

An Emergency Response Management Plan is required for every underground coal mine in Australia. These plans specifically relate to actions to be taken when control over a major hazard has been lost and a potential disaster is imminent. Typical Emergency Management Plan contents are summarised below:

  • Objective and scope

  • Identification of potential major hazard conditions

  • Control procedures for each scenario

  • Initial response – internal emergency response actions and Duty Cards

  • Aided response – external mines rescue organisation assistance in accordance with the Mines Rescue Service Guidelines; other external agencies such as police rescue, emergency medical assistance and civil emergency services.

  • Mine Emergency Management System – specific management technique to manage an emergency

  • Critical infrastructure and resources, such as:

  • Monitoring – gas, strata, water

  • Breathing apparatus – short and long duration self contained self rescuers or compressed air

  • Escape ways

  • Change over and refuge bays

  • Communication systems and techniques

  • Fitness for self escape

  • First aid and fire fighting

  • Transport

  • Mine sealing, inertisation and infrastructure

  • Debriefing protocols

  • Surface buildings and support infrastructure

  • Training of all personnel – supervisors and mineworkers (who may be required to use unfamiliar equipment)

  • Simulated emergency exercises

  • Performance indicators of success or otherwise of the plan and actions

  • Monitoring and corrective action – of control activities

  • Roles and responsibilities

  • Plan auditing and review requirements.

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