Home' Australian Resources and Investment : September 2014 Contents VOLUME 8 NUMBER 3 • Australian Resources and Investment • 73
The adoption of a workplace road
safety policy is just as important
for mine sites as it is for courier
businesses working on Perth's busy
metropolitan streets. Whether you
drive a road train laden with mining
equipment, a light vehicle around the
mine site, or a piece of heavy machinery
at the coalface, it's a sad fact that you
are much more likely to be injured in
the course of your employment than
your colleague who works in an of ce is.
According to information from
WorkSafe, a division of the Department
of Commerce in Western Australia, road
crashes are the most common cause
of work-related fatalities, injuries and
absences in the state. This includes
mine sites, where the major contributing
factors to vehicle accidents are speed,
poor visibility, fatigue, loss of control,
exceeded load capacity, skidding due
to road surface, lack of edge protection,
steep grades, driver inexperience or
unfamiliarity with the vehicle, and
mechanical failure, as well as distraction
and mobile phone usage.
As part of its commitment to
eliminating road trauma as a major
cause of death and serious injury,
the Western Australian Government
has adopted Towards Zero, a 12-year
(2008--2020) strategy for improving road
safety. Towards Zero is built on the safe
system approach, which includes safe
road use, safe roads, safe vehicles and
Towards Zero means not accepting
that anyone should die or be seriously
injured on our roads -- including at
With so many more heavy vehicles
on the road network in Western
Australia than in other states --
especially in the resource-driven
north-west of our state -- workplace
safety needs to be taken seriously by
everyone who manages a eet or drives
a vehicle as part of their job.
A workplace road safety policy will
ensure that all employees are properly
educated when it comes to road safety in
the workplace. It will mean that vehicles
with the highest safety ratings are
bought or hired, lost time injury rates
are decreased, driver fatigue is reduced,
infringement notices are minimised, and
repair and maintenance costs are kept
as low as possible.
Statistics from WorkSafe also reveal
that in the period between 2006/2007
and 2012/2013, there were 30 vehicle-
related work fatalities recorded in the
state. This means that almost four
people per year didn't make it home to
their families at the end of their shifts.
Of course, the most severe type of
work-related injury or illness is one
that results in death; however, injuries
caused by vehicle-related incidents
are also having a great impact on our
quality of life and our businesses.
Recently, the Department of Mines
and Petroleum analysed the deaths
of 52 miners over the past 12 years,
and found that worker fatigue and
inexperience with mining risks were the
biggest contributors to these incidents.
Mine workers, including y-in, y-
out and shift workers, are at great risk
of fatigue. They often suffer from a lack
of time to rest as they add getting ready
for work, commuting, contacting friends
and family, eating, exercising and
socialising to the hours spent working
on their standard shift. These extra
commitments can take up some of the
recommended seven to nine hours of
sleep time when on site.
Employees also often struggle to get
suf cient rest in their leave periods as
they adjust mentally and physically.
This can result in a never-ending and
potentially hazardous cycle of fatigue.
It's well known that several nights
of restricted sleep lead to a 'sleep debt'.
If you let a 'sleep debt' get too big,
the brain will eventually go to sleep
involuntarily, making you less alert and
attentive to what is going on around
you. As a result, you won't react well to
emergencies or spot hazards in advance.
The only way to x the issue is to get
suf cient rest.
Research indicates that fatigue could
be responsible for up to 30 per cent of
all road deaths, and an even greater
percentage of serious injury crashes.
Most of these are single-vehicle crashes,
which include run-off-road incidents.
Shift workers are six times more
likely to be involved in a fatigue-related
road crash than other workers, and
fatigue-related crashes are four times
more likely to happen between 10 pm
and 6 am, when it is more probable
that someone has been awake for an
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