Introduction Mineral extractive and processing industries are faced with difficult challenges regarding the management and control of risks inherent to the typical activities undertaken, with numerous hazards posing potential and serious risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of workforces and communities alike.
Methods Safety and health must be critical inclusion criteria across all stages of the mining lifecycle, i.e. exploration, design and construction, operation, extraction and processing, engineering and maintenance, and beyond, into mine closure and rehabilitation. Additionally, safety and health must be considered in transportation networks and distribution facilities, and in the manufacturing, recycling and disposal of mining products.
Occupational Health is driven by two disciplines – Occupational Hygiene and Occupational Medicine. These two pillars work together and complement each other through a process of Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and management.
Result In the workplace environment, the occupational HRA is the pivotal multi-disciplinary component to risk assessment, and a key consideration in the decision-making process.
The occupational HRA is the systematic identification and analysis of workplace hazards with the aim of implementing and monitoring control measures, i.e. actions and interventions that aid in eliminating or reducing the levels of hazardous exposures. These control measures apply across the board, and follow a Hierarchy of Control approach, from equipment, techniques, and processes; to protocols, policies and guidelines; as well as the education of workforces and communities living in areas surrounding mining operations.
Discussion The success of mining projects and operations hinges, among other criteria, on a sound understanding of the potential health risks for the development of inherently safer designs and operating systems.
This paper discusses learnings with respect to the occupational HRA requirements for mining operations and projects, in order to identify and mitigate the risks in terms of occupational health. Considerations for risk assessment methods are presented, together with the importance of ongoing review and quality assurance, to improve the HRA process.
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