AMEC: Mining’s focus on safety ‘never stops’

Physical safety on mine sites remains an ongoing priority,  Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) Chief Executive Officer Warren Pearce says.

Commenting to in response to last week’s article on the Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) Program Landmark Study: Insights from the Worker Survey and Interviews, Pearce says the study’s focus is more on shining a light on mental health, sexual harassment, and respect than ‘traditional’ safety.

The study shows about 1 in 4 notifiable incidents and one-third of near misses go unreported. ‘Notifiable incidents’ is defined as: “Incidents that arise out of the conduct of a business and include the death of a person, a serious injury or illness, and a dangerous incident.”

Pearce says the study forms an important part of ensuring the mining industry continues to improve across all levels of the workplace from physical safety, to mental health, bullying, and harassment.

“While the MARS report shines more of a light on mental health and well-being, sexual harassment, and respect – at no stage is the industry taking traditional safety for granted. Overall safety is and will continue to be of utmost importance on mine sites.

Physical safety on mine sites is an ongoing priority for the industry. While we have some of the best practices in the world, it should never be taken for granted and we should always be striving to do better.

The industry has done a mountain of work to ensure the highest standards of safety on mine sites are met on a daily basis. This work never stops.”

Closer look at workplace culture

The MARS study interviewed 2,550 WA mine workers to understand their perceptions of mental health awareness, respect, and safety.

Its authors say a key takeaway is that most Western Australian mining workers are adopting high levels of safety behaviours. These include safety compliance (88%) and safety participation (78%).

These safety behaviours are reportedly ‘significantly’ higher than workers in a benchmark sample from other industries (73% reported high levels of safety compliance and 56% reported high levels of safety participation).

Yet, the study does disclose 25% of serious incidents and one-third of close calls are either not divulged to managers or supervisors (or they are but they are not formally documented).

Pearce says what’s clearly evident in the study, however are the poor mental health and well-being struggles facing women and younger workers.

Toxic cultures of bullying and sexual harassment, especially for women are a key issue, particularly the negative effects on mental health and well-being.

The study notes while progress made in weeding out explicit and overt forms of sexual harassment covert forms of sexual harassment such as sexism and misogyny remain high.

To attract more women to the workforce, retain then, and prevent harm, sexual harassment must not be tolerated, the report adds.

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Images: AMEC
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Written By Adam Orlando Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.