Opinion

Ghosts and the machine

Owen Jacques
Owen Jacques Greg Miller

QUEENSLAND'S mine safety record might be the envy of the world, but in just the first four months of 2012, there were still 753 near-misses and serious incidents in mines and quarries across the state.

These include everything from a four-wheel-drive vehicle not slowing down at a haul road intersection or forgetting to put on a handbrake, to brown snakes biting workshop staff, all the way to excavators hitting power lines.

Every injury, scare or concern is reported to safety inspectors or representatives and collated by the state which may then deliver specific warnings about repeat incidents.

Where these things happen is not publicly released, because the government's goal is to have all miners and owners being frank about what is putting workers at risk.

Of those 753 incidents, 239 involved vehicles either hitting each other or losing control. Another 73 involved some risk of explosion, 72 involved either the risk of electric shock or actual electrocution and another eight were described as "fall of person", where someone trips or loses their footing.

The reports are a mix of mundane, bizarre and terrifying events.

In January, a four-wheel-drive sped through an intersection without seeing a giant CAT 776D dump truck which was forced to brake to avoid it being crushed.

In March, a tyre-fitter was sprayed with rocks which knocked out teeth and cut deep into his left arm when a tyre exploded - similar incidents have killed two people in the past decade.

In April, the driver of a Komatsu dump truck had a "micro-sleep" during his third night-shift, crashing into a safety barrier. He had just reported to feeling tired and was about to take a break.

With a mining workforce of about 58,000, these four months' worth of incidents equate to less than 1.5% of its workers. Even so, the mining workers' unions, managers and various levels of government are forever targeting safety in the way the resources sector digs up the earth.

Because when a fatality is visited on a family, that one person's life represents less than one-fifth of 1% of the industry, but the ripples of grief are felt by every one of those 58,000 as they walk into the workshop, climb into the dump truck's cabin or watch their spouse leave for another shift.

Topics:  mine safety opinion owen jacques



Don't wait for Headspace if you need help now

Member for Page, Kevin Hogan and Health Minister Greg Hunt on Prince Street for the announcement of funding for a headspace in Grafton.

Community plan in place for Headspace Centre

GALLERY: Police crackdown on drugs continues

Nimbin drug bust

Man in Nimbin charged after search

Local Partners

Wonderland star hits the big time in America

HE MAY not be James Bond, but Bundaberg lad Michael Dorman has hit the big time in a lead on Amazon web series Patriot.

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

Reginald VelJohnson, left, and Darius McCrary arrive at the TV Land Awards on Sunday, April 19, 2009 in Universal City, Calif.

Darius McCrary has been accused of child abuse

Bindi Irwin's birthday tribute to her dad

Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin has paid tribute to her dad on his 55th birthday

Reality TV show gives Maryborough a boost

*WARNING EMBARGOED until 9.15pm Monday January 30* Sean Hollands and Susan Rawlings pictured after their wedding on the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Maryborough looks good on reality TV show.

Buderim dad rejects gay son's emotional plea for second time

LOVERS: Grant and Chris have been together for more than three years, and Chris' parents refuse to acknowledge their son's fiance.

Son’s emotional plea rejected again by unmoved father

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

Historic home 'Fairweather' up for action

Fairweather

Historic property owned for last 35 years up for sale

A piece of Clarence Valley heritage up for grabs

The historic house \"Ravensford\" located at 36 Villiers St in Grafton is currently on the market at McKimms Real Estate.

Take a look inside iconic home 'Ravenford'

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!