The Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) has released new data that shows that workers are being injured at a rate of one serious injury per day.
The report, which outlines that there are more than 130,000 workers in the industry, also shows the uptick in workers, even when measured against the mining boom of the late nineties.
A historian from Kalgoorlie, Moya Sharp, has been documenting the lives of all those who have died after her own son lost his life on a mine site in 2004, in a virtual miners memorial.
Her research showed that since 1997, 85 workers have been killed in the WA mining sector.
“Mining is always going to be a dangerous job,” Mrs Sharp told ABC News.
“Things are getting better and better all the time, using remote vehicles, the safety equipment that’s provided and the instruction and the procedures they go through to learn the right way to do things is improving every year.
“But I don’t think we will ever get to a point in time where we can say there won’t be any deaths in the mining industry.”
The report from the DMIRS showed an increase on LY rates for lost-time injuries (LTIs) of 20% in the FY18/19, with 365 incidents classified at “serious” during that period, which is classified as an injury that disables or incapacitates a worker for two or more weeks.
Some of the more serious incidents include multiple leg fractures suffered by a worker who had an excavator fall on him; another worker who fell 10 metres during an internal scaffolding build; two workers who were hit by hot caustic solution while investigating a blockage at a processing facility and a diamond driller who required two fingers be amputated after an underground incident.
While the late nineties saw the Mines Minister, Norman Moore, order an inquiry into a series of underground rock falls and subsequently introduce an overhaul that reduced rates of injuries per million hours by 72 per cent, the current minister said the safety standards in the industry must be met despite increased growth.
Mr Johnston explained that he thinks “there have been real improvements in the West Australian resource sector for safety performance, but this report shows there is still room for improvement,” he said.
“There’s no question that zero harm has to be the objective.”