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  • Imagine you are a Safety Officer in an industry of your choice (or one you are currently working in now). You have been asked by your manager to write a report on the following issues: a) Identify the five (5) main occupational hazards that exist in this

Imagine you are a Safety Officer in an industry of your choice (or one you are currently working in now). You have been asked by your manager to write a report on the following issues: a) Identify the five (5) main occupational hazards that exist in this Essay Example

  • Category:
    Business
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    High School
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    2534

Mining Industry Hazards and Risks Assessment

14

Mining Industry Hazards & Risks Assesment

Executive summary

This report identifies five major occupational hazards that are found in the mining industry. The hazards are physical, chemical, biological, agronomical and psychological. Mining industry is a hazardous profession as it involves activities being done underground, on service and in remote areas using risky machines and equipment. The report gives a detailed risk assessment procedure that starts with identifying the hazards, ranking them depending on their fatality and then managing them according to the ratings. Using risk assessment on the hazards enables the industry to come up with measures that help in mitigating the hazards. The industry should always follow the code of practice that would enable managing the hazards effectively. The report explains the code of practice in the mining industry and how it can be applied in managing the hazards. To avoid accidents associated with the hazards in the mining industry, the report recommends the use of protective wear, application of technology, use code of practice and having well trained professionals. Through these recommendations, the mining industry can be safer with few accidents.

Table of Contents

2Executive summary

5Introduction

5Main hazards in mining

5Physical hazards

6Chemical hazards

7Biological hazards

7Psychological Hazards

8Ergonomic hazards

8Assessment of the risk from potential exposure to these hazards

9Risk analysis procedure

9Risks of mine accidents and their management

10Surveying

10Clearing

10Drilling

10Explosives

11Transporting

11Processing/Crushing

11Underground working

11Electrical hazards

Codes of Practice in mining 11

Recommendations 12

12Conclusion

References 14

Introduction

Mining is an industry which has been classified as prone to hazards, injury as well as diseases (NIOSH, 2000). The industry is multi professional as it involves different professionals who work on exploration, mining, commissioning and rehabilitating the land. The operations involved in mining are in most cases dangerous as workers are supposed to work underground. Most of the processes that are done on mining are covered on the ground. Being a hazardous operation, it’s important to know the dangers which are faced by the miners during their day to day operations. Mining involves several occupational hazards such as physical hazards, chemical hazards, psychosocial hazards, biological hazards and ergonomic hazards (Kecojevic & Nor, 2009). This report will look at these hazards that miners face and consider the methods that can be used to access the risks of these hazards. The report will also give the codes of practice that I would use to help in managing these hazards.

Main hazards in mining

Physical hazards

During mining, physical hazards are the main problem and ranges from minor to fatal injuries. The injuries can be caused by rock fall, fires, electricity, mine accidents, moving objects and machines as well as explosions. There are also accidents which occur as a result of flooding in the mines, bulkheads collapse and air blast. Noise in mining is very common. Most of the machines that are used in mining are highly noisy making it a major risk. The drilling, cutting conveyors and processing of the ore are processes that are carried out using noisy machines. There are cases of hearing loss among the miners. Though there are efforts to reduce noise in mining, it has proved difficult and the hazard is still there (NIOSH, 2000).

In tropical mines, heat is a major physical hazard. This occurs in underground mines where the rock temperatures are high which leads to increased air temperature. This has led to heat strokes which in most cases are fatal (Donoghue, 2004). As the mine gets deep, removal of excess heat is a major problem. Vibration when operating moving objects is a major problem. This occurs when using equipments such as the trucks, diggers and scrappers. The fact that some of the roads and vehicles lack proper maintenance has contributed highly to the problem. Vibration in the mine industry leads to conditions such as hand arm vibration syndrome and spinal disorders (Orsulak et al. 2010). Exposure to the Radon daughter is also common when the mine is poorly ventilated. This can lead to lung problems to the miners. For those working on the surface of the mine, they risk exposure to solar ultraviolets. There is also exposure to infrared and electromagnetism when smelting and performing metallurgical processes. The increase in pressure in underground mines leads to high temperature and minimise sweat evaporation.

Chemical hazards

Crystalline silica is a main chemical hazard in the mining industry. The chemicals have been identified for a long time since 19th century and several measures put in place. Having infections such as HIV increases the chance of being affected by the Crystalline Silica (NIOSH, 2000). The chemical causes obstructive pulmonary disease and increases the risk of getting lung cancer. Dust from coal is another chemical hazard among the mine workers. Exposure to diesel particulate is very common in the underground mines. This is through the underground machines and mobile equipment that uses diesel.

Some of the mines are contaminated with arsenic. When extracting arsenic and during smelting, chances of getting contaminated increase. Some of the mine refineries have been associated with nickel compounds. This has an effect of increasing lung and sinus cancer. There are also risks associated with lead, cadmium and manganese. Being exposed to the coal tar is a chemical hazard for the workers. Coal tar increases the chances of getting lung cancer and asthma (Kecojevic & Nor, 2009). Use of cyanide in hydrometallurgical process presents a major chemical hazard. Getting skin splashes among the workers with the cyanide solution can lead to disastrous health conditions. Other chemical hazards are mercury and hydrofluoric acid (NIOSH, 2000).

Biological hazards

When mining is carried out in remote areas, risks of contracting malaria or dengue fever are very high. Diseases such as leptospirosis are common in the mines. Most of the company mines are located in remote locations which in some instances exposes the workers to these biological hazards. There are instances when mine workers are required to explore new mines sites in areas which are very remote. Though the mine has worked in eliminating the biological hazards, they still pose a challenge especially during exploration. In mines which lacks regular analysis of microbial, there have been reported several cases of biological hazards (NIOSH, 2000).

Psychological Hazards

In mining, psychological hazards have been a major issue. Drug and alcohol have been the main issue to deal with among the miners. Use of alcohol and drugs has been associated with some of the accidents that have occurred in the mine. The mining conditions where miners are required to travel to remote places add to the psychological hazards. This is due to fact that the miners are separated from their families for a long period and in most cases are far from their communities. When fatal and traumatising accidents occur in the mine, workers are deeply affected on their morale (NIOSH, 2000). Some of the workers have been identified to suffer from stress on witnessing such accidents. When an accident occurs in the mine, the managers suffer the ordeal of going through the legal process, and also sense of guilt though they may not be guilty.

Ergonomic hazards

Manual handling of the mining operations have been blamed on the trauma disorders. There are also cases of prolonged disability among the mine workers. Working overhead, especially when laying cables, pipes and fixing ground support have been blamed on shoulder disorders (NIOSH, 2000). There is also few shift works which makes some of the workers to be engaged for a whole week. Fatigue is common in the mine works where the miners are subjected to tiring tasks. When working in hot conditions, sleep disorders are experienced. The use of technology to undertake mining has acted to reduce the ergonomic hazards though some of the ergonomic hazards are still there.

Assessment of the risk from potential exposure to these hazards

In any industry, the success is embedded on the safety of the workers (Nor et al. 2008). This is through the capability of the industry to identify the hazards and make sure that they bring a tolerable environment. Risk assessment involves using a systematic method which is capable of identifying and analysing the hazards involved. The assessment should be able to come up with a level for each risk. Due to the activities that are involved in mining, it’s not a naturally safe environment. The safety of a mine rests with the management that is involved. The mine uses the required legal risk assessment method to make sure that all the operations are safe in the mine.

As the safety officer, the procedure of risk assessment starts with noting the main hazards, the events that can lead to hazards and the associated risks in the hazardous activities. The mine utilise multiple assessment techniques due to fact that each of the technique have its strengths and weaknesses (Nor et al. 2008).

Risk analysis procedure

The steps that are used in risk assessment and management are

  • Identifying the hazard

  • Ranking the hazard in accordance to the probability of occurrence and fatality

  • Managing the risks as per their ratings.

The analysis done on the mine gave the following results.

  • There was poor use of PPE

  • Presence of fly rock during blasting

  • Lack of proper footpath and trails for trucks and tippers

  • Cases of overcrowding in automobiles

  • Presence of conflicts

  • Mine flooding

Risks of mine accidents and their management

Due to hazardous environment in the mines, there are considerable environmental, health and safety risks that miners are exposed to (Kecojevic & Nor, 2009). This can leads to accidents which in some instances lead to loss of life, injury and damages to the mine. The following shows the risk assessment in different operations and the precautions used.

Surveying

When surveying, the main risks are falls from heights and accidents in vehicles. The main precaution is making good use of the provided scaffolds (Orsulak et al. 2010).

Clearing

When clearing, workers are exposed to falling trees and accidents from power saws. The main precautions used are using operators who are well trained and making sure that protective wear is used all times (Orsulak et al. 2010).

Drilling

The main hazard that occurs during drilling are falling of a bench, inhaling the dust, noise, and entrapment or being struck by drill. To avoid this, the main precautions used are training the personnel’s about the use of bench, using suitable portable bench, attaching a safety line to the drilling rig and use of harness by driller. To avoid the driller inhaling the dust, water should be used when drilling, there should be appropriate ventilation. New drills should be used and the operators should wear noise protection. When using the drill, it should be well guarded and the operator should be trained (Orsulak et al. 2010).

Explosives

Misfires and flying rocks can result from having shots that are wrongly designed. Before firing, there need to be safety check. This involves looking at the holes drilled, weight of explosive and ensuring there is appropriate logging. The design of the blast should only be done by qualified personnel (Orsulak et al. 2010).

Transporting

While transporting, the risks that may occur are brake failure, poor visibility, vibrations, noise, dust and difficult manoeuvres. There is need for use of visibility aids, edge protection, seat belt and maintenance of the machines to avoid brake failures (Orsulak et al. 2010).

Processing/Crushing

When crushing, the main risks are blockages, noise, dust and high vibrations. This can be prevented through use of blockage hammers, noise isolators and good ventilation (Orsulak et al. 2010).

Underground working

The fall of roofs and sides is a major risk. This is assessed by making sure the roofs and sides are secure, there are systematic support rules for the supports, no worker is under unsupported roof and safety props are used. There is also risk of the pillars collapsing in the coal mines. Air blasts are also a risk if not well managed. No uncollapsed roof should be kept long and warning systems should be installed for the workers (Orsulak et al. 2010).

Electrical hazards

Electrical risks occurs due to shock, ignition of the firedamp and defects in wiring. These can be avoided by regular maintenance and using flameproof apparatus.

Codes of Practice in mining

Mining industry is supposed to follow the code of practice set by the industry and legal authority. The code of practice can help in managing the risks. The code of practice manages hazards through making sure the workers are safe, upholding ethics in operations, ensuring mine safety and environmental laws are followed. There are several codes of conduct in mining industry based on exploration, mines survey, safe design of mine houses and structures, safeguarding the machinery and the working hours. The mining industry is also supposed to follow the occupational safety. Upholding code of conduct is vital to ensure that the mine as well as workers are safe (Orsulak et al. 2010).

Recommendations

Mines should use risk assessment to identify the risk earlier and determine the level of each risk. Defining an estimate accident level of risk can help a lot in coming up with measures to mitigate it. There is also need to use the appropriate technology in the mine to avoid injury. There are technologies which allow remote control of the operations which are hazardous in the mine. This helps a lot in ensuring workers do not suffer from ergonomic risks due to tasks that are uncomfortable. Mines should be well ventilated and all the safety measures followed. The miners should wear protective cloths all the time. There is also need for the mining industry to ensure they follow the code of practice when conduction their activities (Kecojevic & Nor, 2009).

Conclusion

Mining is a hazardous operation as it involves activities that expose workers to risky working conditions. The main hazards that are faced by the workers are physical, chemical, agronomical, psychological and biological. Risk assessment helps the industry to maintain high standards of safety among the workers. This is through identifying the hazards and working to minimize them. Engaging in unsafe mining exposes the workers to risks such as loss of life and permanent disability among others. The mine hazards can be minimized using the risk assessment and management. This can make sure that the miners are safe when performing their duties. The code of practice should be followed since it assists in managing the hazards. Using the recommendations outlined, it’s possible to have a safe mining environment.

References

Donoghue, A.M., (2004). Heat illness in the US mining industry. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 45(1), 351-356.

Kecojevic, V. & Nor, Z., (2009). Hazard identification for equipment-related fatal incidents in the U.S. underground coal mining, Journal of Coal Science and Engineering, 15(1), 1-6.

NIOSH. (2000). Injuries, Illnesses, and Hazardous Exposures in the Mining Industry, 1986- 1995: A Surveillance Report .Washington DC: NIOSH.

Nor, Z. Md., Kecojevic, V., Komljenovic, D., & Groves, W. (2008). Risk assessment for loader and dozer-related fatal incidents in U.S. mining, International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 15(1), 65-75.

Orsulak, M., Kecojevic, V., Grayson, L. & Nieto, A. (2010). Risk assessment of safety violations for coal mines, International Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environment, 24(1), 244-254.