GAS WARNING: Several open cut coal mines in Queensland are falling short of gas management standards to ensure an acceptable level of risk.
GAS WARNING: Several open cut coal mines in Queensland are falling short of gas management standards to ensure an acceptable level of risk.

Unacceptable ‘level of risk’ in open cut gas management

SEVERAL open cut coal mines in Queensland are falling short of gas management standards, resulting in an unacceptable level of risk for workers.

So far this year, the Mines Inspectorate has handed out six directives and five substandard condition practices involving flammable and toxic gases in open cut coal mines.

A safety alert issued by the inspectorate said these involved cases where onsite systems, knowledge or practices had not met a standard required to ensure an acceptable level of risk.

"Flammable and toxic gases have been emitted from a range of situations, including spontaneous combustion events, blast holes, post blast areas, blast fumes and old underground workings," the alert stated.

"Coal mine workers at open cut sites are often not aware that flammable and toxic gases may be present, and pose a significant risk during normal mining activities at open cut operations."

Coal mine workers at open cut mines should be aware of the toxic and flammable risks associated with gases encountered on site.

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Image of a mine haul truck. Picture: Lee Constable / Daily Mercury
Image of a mine haul truck. Picture: Lee Constable / Daily Mercury

This should include awareness of how to effectively monitor, assess and manage potential risks.

The alert said the potential risk from each type of gas is determined by the concentration of gas in air.

"Therefore, the detection and measurement of gas in air provides a critical role in the mine's safety and health management system for gas management," it said.

"Coal mine workers who conduct gas monitoring and assessment of risks need to be aware of the physical properties as well as the hazardous properties of the specific gas types likely to be present at the mine site."

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The inspectorate has put forward three recommendations to industry, including that senior site executives must ensure that persons instructed to undertake gas monitoring activities at the mine are trained and authorised to operate the gas monitoring equipment.

It has also recommended that coal mine workers be made aware of the potential gases present at the mine during induction and receive ongoing refresher training.



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