Ghosts and the machine

Owen Jacques
Owen Jacques Greg Miller

QUEENSLAND'S mine safety record might be the envy of the world, but in just the first four months of 2012, there were still 753 near-misses and serious incidents in mines and quarries across the state.

These include everything from a four-wheel-drive vehicle not slowing down at a haul road intersection or forgetting to put on a handbrake, to brown snakes biting workshop staff, all the way to excavators hitting power lines.

Every injury, scare or concern is reported to safety inspectors or representatives and collated by the state which may then deliver specific warnings about repeat incidents.

Where these things happen is not publicly released, because the government's goal is to have all miners and owners being frank about what is putting workers at risk.

Of those 753 incidents, 239 involved vehicles either hitting each other or losing control. Another 73 involved some risk of explosion, 72 involved either the risk of electric shock or actual electrocution and another eight were described as "fall of person", where someone trips or loses their footing.

The reports are a mix of mundane, bizarre and terrifying events.

In January, a four-wheel-drive sped through an intersection without seeing a giant CAT 776D dump truck which was forced to brake to avoid it being crushed.

In March, a tyre-fitter was sprayed with rocks which knocked out teeth and cut deep into his left arm when a tyre exploded - similar incidents have killed two people in the past decade.

In April, the driver of a Komatsu dump truck had a "micro-sleep" during his third night-shift, crashing into a safety barrier. He had just reported to feeling tired and was about to take a break.

With a mining workforce of about 58,000, these four months' worth of incidents equate to less than 1.5% of its workers. Even so, the mining workers' unions, managers and various levels of government are forever targeting safety in the way the resources sector digs up the earth.

Because when a fatality is visited on a family, that one person's life represents less than one-fifth of 1% of the industry, but the ripples of grief are felt by every one of those 58,000 as they walk into the workshop, climb into the dump truck's cabin or watch their spouse leave for another shift.

Topics:  mine safety opinion owen jacques

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Byron CBD break ins: Woman confronts intruder

BYRON BREAK INS: Locals are concerned about a spate of recent break ins.

RESIDENTS of Byron Bay are concerned at spate of break ins in CBD.

Shark issue forces school to cancel all ocean sports

NO NET GAIN: Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson makes his opinion clear at last weekend's No Nets Rally and turtle release at Ballina.

"There is currently an unacceptable risk", says principal

Greens fight and fuss but shark nets are coming

The NSW Government has vowed to reintroduce old-style mesh shark nets to North Coast beaches.

Mesh shark nets almost certain to arrive at North Coast beaches

Local Partners

Jake left broken-hearted by Bachelorette break-up

Jake Ellis is one of the final three bachelors on The Bachelorette.

GEORGIA chooses Lee and Matty J as her final two suitors.

MOVIE REVIEW: Doctor Strange is out there in a good way

Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange.

MARVEL'S new superhero takes viewers along on his mind trip.

MOVIE REVIEW: Jack Reacher sequel falls flat

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

THE film's title Never Go Back should serve as a warning to fans.

The Bachelor contestants find love with each other

Former Bachelor contestants Megan Marx and Tiffany Scanlon have confirmed their relationship on social media.

MEGAN Marx and Tiffany Scanlon confirm relationship on Instagram.

Liam Payne wants to wed Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Liam Payne

Liam Payne reportedly wants to marry Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

Bindi Irwin 'honoured' to make MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals