Why are Risk Assessments Required? 2
The Basic Principles 3
The Procedure of Risk Assessment 4
Risk Evaluation in Mines 4
Risk Assessment Steps in Application 5
Laying Out 6
Steps of Risk Assessment 6
Categories of Hazards 6
Who can be harmed? 7
Risk Evaluation 7
Risk Matrix Chart 7
Probability Rating Table 8
Identified Risks 8
Qualitative Risk Analysis 8
Risk assessment is an essential management instrument to provide a safe environment for workers that can be exposed to hazards and in this case, mines. It is the basic process that makes the base of mine’s risk management system. The development of this application is a practical approach to create an awareness and clarity for the site to creatively and effectively manage safety and integrity and also manage risk assessment.
Why are Risk Assessments Required?
Risk Assessments are a necessity for the mine operators to recognize different levels of risks and act accordingly and also it is legally required to execute a procedure like risk assessment for working in a hazardous work environment. These Risk assessments help prioritize the risks involved in the procedure and help the workers act accordingly. And whenever there is an introduction of a new type of hazard, they can be managed accordingly.
Hazard: A situation due to which there can be harm caused to humans, property or the environment is called a hazard.
Risk: Probability of occurrence of an event which can damage a person, property or surrounding environment is called risk.
Risk Assessment: The process which is used to ascertain the priorities of the risk by analyzing and comparing the risks to predetermined standards of risks is known as Risk Assessment.
Workplace Risk Assessment and Control: It is a pre-emptive procedure to analyze to workplace to know the risks and control them to a certain level.
Risk Management: The application of management principles and methods to work on identifying, analyzing, observing and taking care of the risks under observation is known as risk management. (NSW Government, 2009)
The Basic Principles
Risk Assessment requires certain general principles for applying the safety principles in a mine. In reference to Rio Tinto, the following procedures are applicable.
Workplace Safety: The arrangement about the safety of the workplace is a prime concern regarding the mining facility. Unkempt and dirty workplaces give way to diseases and accidental hazards in a mining facility. In reference to the mining facility, the walkways and passages should be regularly maintained and cleaned to avoid such occupational hazards and will make working more suitable.
Work: The aspects of risk assessment have to be fully understood and perceived to apply those concepts in daily work. In executing the process of risk assessment for a particular place and organization immense knowledge about both of the things is necessary.
Personnel Competence: For helping out in executing the task of Risk Assessment and its related procedures, workers and employees will require a basic understanding of the concept and training should also be given to personnel regarding Risk Assessment to minimize the chances of accidents in the workplace.
Plant and Machinery: The proper working and risk proofing of the plant is one of the primary goals of the Risk Assessment Process. The plant is where the workers are doing their job and all employees function around and with the machines and equipment in the plant so it is essential to ensure that the work area is safe and the machines are not faulty.
Health Hazards: If there is a possible risk to the health of the miners than that is supposed to be taken care of at the earliest possible opportunity to keep the operations running and for the well being of the workforce. In reference to mining, the pressing concerns at the workplace can be the possibility of dust or polluted air which is necessary concerns.
Traffic Movement: The traffic of the workers and machines should only be allowed to move at their properly designated places and routes. The probability of a hazard due to improper regulation of traffic is a concerning factor. (Simonsen & Perry, 1999)
The Procedure of Risk Assessment
The complete procedure of Risk Assessment is divided into 7 steps:
1. Identifying Hazards: This is the step where the possibilities of occurrence of an accident are considered.
2. Identifying the subject at risk: This step analyzes the people and properties which might be involved in the activity. And what other entity can be at risk due to any activity in the plant.
3. Removal of the Hazard: The possibilities of methods in which the activities can be executed in a way that the risks are minimized.
4. Evaluation of Risks: The probability of the occurrence of the risk is analyzed in this step and also work is done on reducing that probability.
5. Decisions on Control Procedures: The earlier measures taken to reduce the risks are observed in this step. If any further steps are required, the future steps are decided on this basis.
6. Recording of the Assessment: The steps taken and changes made are recorded are recorded for future purposes.
7. Review: The assessment will be reviews in the future for the next assessment or when the need arises to take some steps. (Covello & Merkhoher, 1993)
Risk Evaluation in Mines
Climate Extremes: This is the major problem affecting the Rio Tinto Mine. Climate changes like storms, heavy rains and floods have affected the mine a number of times in the past. They have led to repairing various parts of the mine and restructuring some areas for future protection. Supply chains are also affected due to these extreme conditions from time to time.
Water Resources: This is a secondary problem on the site as water is abundant but in some areas of the mine but it can get scarce in some situations. Energy utilization requires utilization of water so it is a concerning issue affecting the mine.
Financial Risks: The financial investment in the mines goes into jeopardy every time due to climate extremes. (Safety and Health Commision for Mining, n.d.)
Risk Assessment Steps in Application
Some of the hazards can be eliminated at this stage itself by properly planning the site keeping safety procedures in mind. If the plant or workplace is made keeping safety standards into consideration, potential for harm can be reduced if not eliminated. This involves forming the layout in a fashion which will reduce accidents. Skilled drivers can be used for vehicles to reduce accidents. Good quality equipment can be acquired to prevent injury. Efficiently designed work-ways can be made to reduce the possibility of a fall.
The supervisors have to go for a site inspection for checking out the possibilities of a hazard in the work-place or if a safety measure is not up to mark. If there is a hazard created due to a ground formation then that specific area can be abandoned or assessed for repair. Clear instructions are supposed to be given to workers operating with heavy equipment and vehicles.
This activity includes the clearance of an area so that mining can be done there. It can include clearance of trees, rocks, or small water bodies. It means using heavy demolition equipment like dynamites, drills, power-saws, etc. In this step care should be taken about the workers that they are given proper training and instructions and that they are provided with protective gear on duty like helmets or jackets.
There are many ways through which some choices can ensure more safety than the others. A small storey building will be less hazardous than a large one. Building or setting equipment on a clear ground is safer than building the Equipment on the terrain. Proper planning and execution can greatly reduce the risk of injury or a hazard.
Steps of Risk Assessment
Categories of Hazards
The primary categories of hazards affecting the mining environment are:
Electrical hazards: Workers coming directly into contact with machines are prone to the risk of getting electrocuted due to an accident is highly probable due to the constant relocation of the equipment inside the mines so there is a chance of the equipment not set properly.
Accidental Falls and Falling Objects: In a mining environment there is a possibility of falling debris or rocks in the premises. There is also a possibility of a fall in the area as ground is being dug constantly and drilled so it is to be analyzed constantly if the ground has proper strength that structures and people can stand on it.
Climate Extremities: If the mining is an open environment or strongly connected to places affected by temperature changes then there is a strong possibility of the plant and work force getting affected by the climate changes. This possibility of an extreme climate is dangerous to human life and property.
Fire: There is a possibility of a fire due to a wiring problem inside the mining equipment. If a fire erupts inside a mining area it is hard to contain it quickly. For this, strict and rigorous measures are to be taken in advance to prevent such a disaster.
Hazardous Substances: If the mining process includes mining of minerals than there is a possibility of a poisonous gas forming underground. So there should be constant checks on the toxic levels of the air inside the plant. (Environmental Risks of Mining, n.d.)
Who can be harmed?
• Equipment Experts
• Geology Experts
• Machinery Operators
• Vehicle Operators
• Maintenance Personnel
Risk Matrix Chart
Consequences should exposure occur Probability of exposure to hazard
Very Likely Likely Unlikely Highly Unlikely
Life Threatening High High High Medium
Detrimental High High Medium Medium
Harmful High Medium Medium Low
Negligible Medium Medium Low Low
Probability Rating Table
Very Likely Hazard likely to occur frequently
Likely Hazard likely to occur but not frequently
Unlikely Hazard unlikely to occur
Highly Unlikely Hazard so unlikely to occur that it can be assumed it won’t happen
Climate Extremities Can destroy equipment and cause danger to manpower resulting in monetary and physical damage.
Electric Malfunction Can cause power-cuts and shocks
Fire Can cause massive devastation in a mining site
Falling Objects or Debris Can cause harm to people on site and property
Fall Vehicle or people can fall from a height and cause death and damage
Hazardous Gases Can prove fatal to workers if arises
Water Scarcity Can disrupt work for some hours
Qualitative Risk Analysis
Probability Very High Extreme Weather
High Falling Debris
Medium Water Scarcity
Low Fall Hazardous Gases Fire
Very Low Low Medium High Very High
Risk Implication Impact Probability Risk Score
Fall Can destroy Machinery and kill people Very Low Low Low
Water Scarcity Can slow down or temporarily stop work Low Medium Medium
Falling Debris Will cause damage to life and machinery Medium High High
Hazardous Gases Can cause heavy damage to life if it arises High Low Medium
Fire Can cause a huge amount of damage if arises Very High Low High
Extreme Weather Highly Probable and major source of destruction and damage Very High Very High Very High
The Risk Assessment of the mine suggested need to deal with the risk of climate changes initially then other changes following it. This risk assessment should save a lot of lives and property as this phenomenon causes huge levels of destruction and if it is averted then there can be a lot of progress and savings. These extreme climates cause breaks in supply chains and destruction of many people and machinery. This Risk Assessment can be further used to generate steps regarding which hazard should be dealt with in the next step and provides insight on prioritizing between the different hazards on the site.
Covello, V., & Merkhoher, M. (1993). Risk Assessment Methods: Approaches for Assessing Health and Environmental Risks. New York: Plenum Press.
Environmental Risks of Mining. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2014, from http://web.mit.edu/: http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2016/finalwebsite/problems/mining.html
NSW Government. (2009). Risk Assessment Workbook for Mines. Mine Safety Operations , 3-4.
Safety and Health Commision for Mining. (n.d.). Guidance for carrying out Risk Assessment at Surface Mining Operatioons. Commitee on Surface Workings.
Simonsen, H., & Perry, J. (1999). Risk identification, assessment and management in the mining andmetallurgical industries. The Journal of The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy , 5-6.