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34Managing The Risk At Unsupervised Mine Sites

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Brief Description of Incident/Accident & Description of Consequences/Outcomes:

Mine or quarry sites can be unsupervised for a variety of reasons including; abandonment, no security after hours, Christmas/New Year holidays or temporary closure. An unsupervised site can present an irresistible temptation to children and others for use as a play area, to ride trail bikes, to climb on structures, to swim in water holes or just to explore.

There are many examples in Australia and overseas where children or adults have died at unsupervised sites as a result of accidents with vehicles, being buried in fine material or drowning. The most recent incident in Queensland was when a 3 year old infant wandered away from home and was found 2 hours later in a lake in the disused open cut, pictured below.

Energy Type(s) Involved:

various -

Root & Contributing Cause(s):

LTA awareness

LTA bunding

LTA guarding

LTA inspection

LTA risk assessment

Stated or Potential Consequence(s):


Preventative/Recommended/Accepted Steps of Risk Mitigation, Points of Interest:

There is an obligation on the holder/operator of unsupervised mining or quarry sites to manage site risks and there is a process outlined in the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Regulation 2001 to assist in this requirement. The process requires that the hazards are identified at every phase of the operation and that appropriate control measures are put in place. A hierarchy of hazard control measures is listed in Section 8 of the Regulation and some of the ways this could apply to an unsupervised site are set out below. (a) The best control measure is to eliminate the hazard. For example; fill in and level off open excavations, remove hazardous substances from site, remove structures and machinery, disconnect power, level out high or overhanging heaps of fine material and fill in or drain non-functional water holes. (b) The next best control measure is to consider substitution. For example, substitute steep slopes with flatter slopes on the sides of open excavations or waste dumps, making the site less attractive to bike riders. (c) & (d) Then consider separation or engineering controls. For example; fencing off open excavations or other hazard, blocking roads, locking gates, capping shafts/blocking the entrance to underground workings or installing an alarm system to warn off or notify a security patrol of intruders. Engineering controls will need to be inspected periodically to confirm their integrity. (e) Lastly consider administrative controls. For example; erect warning signs or raise public awareness of dangers on site through meetings or education programs. However, warning signs and public education will have little direct effect on small children. (f) In general, personal protective equipment is not an applicable control measure for unattended sites. A combination of control measures can and should be used if appropriate. For example flattening the slopes of an excavation, as well as fencing and public education.

EMESRT Risk(s):

No positive isolation

ISOLgate Checklist(s):

Download No positive isolation Checklist.


Queensland Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI)


Here are the results.


Reference Type:

Safety Bulletin #12

EMESRT Risk(s):

No positive isolation

Mine Type:

Surface Mine




Australia, Queensland

ISOLgate Checklist(s)

No positive isolation Checklist.

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