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The Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulations 2022 (WHS Mines Regulations) provide a duty for the mine operator to establish and implement a mine safety management system (MSMS). The MSMS is a framework that brings together the mine’s policies, systems, procedures and plans to enable a mine operator to ensure the safe operation of a mine.
Identifying hazards can be achieved by dividing operations or systems into groups. Identifying hazards should account for workplaces, work processes, substances, plant and equipment, how work is organised, managed, carried out and how changes may occur.
In assessing risks, the mine operator should consider the nature of the hazard or risk, likelihood of the hazard or risk causing harm, possible severity of the harm, and the state of knowledge (what the industry knows) about the hazard or risk and how to eliminate or minimise them.
Managing risk involves eliminating the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable. If this is not able to be done, the risk must be minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable, by the use of effective controls that are based upon the hierarchy of control. The MSMS should contain reference to any design principles, engineering standards and technical standards relied upon for control measures.
The detail on each element of the MSMS will depend on the nature, complexity and stage of the mining operations and the associated risks. As a minimum, the content must set out:
and if applicable:
The mine operator must implement processes for:
The MSMS must include arrangements for the provision of information, training and instructions regarding the nature of the work, the risks associated with the work and the required control measures, including induction procedures for workers (general and site specific) appropriate to the tasks that the worker will perform.
If a contractor is working at a mine, the mine operator must include in the MSMS control measures that will be used to control risks to health and safety associated with the contractor’s work.
A contractor may operate at a mine under the MSMS of the mine operator or under the contractor’s own health and safety management plan. If the contractor finds its arrangements are consistent with the mine’s MSMS, then the contractor must notify the mine operator in writing of this to indicate they will use the MSMS when working at the mine.
The contractor may operate under its own health and safety management plan if it has the resources and capability to do so, and the plan is accepted in writing by the mine operator.
In order to implement the MSMS, the mine operator needs to ensure that what is set out in the MSMS is followed in practice. The MSMS should be integrated with other management systems and practices, and adequate resources need to be provided for implementation of the MSMS.
Monitoring of mining operations is necessary to ensure that what is planned in the MSMS is implemented in practice. Feedback from ongoing assessment and regular inspections should be provided to the mine operator so that steps can be taken to correct any issues that are impeding implementation.
These arrangements must be described in the MSMS and should include:
Once the MSMS is in place, it must be reviewed under certain circumstances. These may include a simple review of the relevant parts of the management system following:
If it is a new mine, the MSMS must be reviewed within 12 months of operations commencing.
The MSMS should be fully reviewed at least once every three years and as necessary to ensure it remains effective.
A mine operator must have a procedure for measuring how the mine’s MSMS is performing against set performance standards, and a system for auditing to ensure the MSMS remains effective. The MSMS for a mine must include the following: