The coal industry takes the issue of safety very seriously; WCA members strive for a goal of zero fatalities and publish statistics for both fatal and non-fatal accidents in their annual reports.
Coal mining deep underground involves a higher safety risk than coal mined in opencast pits, due primarily to problems associated with mine ventilation and the potential for mine collapse. However, there are safety risks associated with all forms of coal mining, not least because of the heavy machinery utilised in coal excavation.
Mining explosions are a safety risk in underground mining. Methane released from the coal seam and surrounding rock strata during the process of mining can present a high risk of explosion at concentrations in air of 5-15%. Techniques have been developed to eliminate and/or dilute methane emissions both prior to and during mining and this has helped to significantly reduce methane related explosions in underground mines.
Modern coal mines have rigorous safety procedures, health and safety standards and worker education and training, which have led to significant improvements in safety levels in both underground and opencast mining.
Nothing is more important to the coal industry than ensuring our people return home safely at the end of the working day.
The WCA’s “Commitment to Safety” policy statement
The WCA’s “Commitment to Safety” policy statement demonstrates the critical importance the coal industry places on safety in its operations. The safety of workers should always be a primary consideration in any form of coal mining. We believe there are four core components to ensuring we provide the safest possible workplaces:
Implement a risk management culture
Identifying hazards, undertaking risk assessments and implementing controls are crucial steps in reducing the risk of incidents.
Work in partnership with our people
Empowering them to share concerns and being open to suggestions for improved performance.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility
People in every aspect of our operations have a role to play in creating a safe workplace.
Safety and health can always be improved
A workplace learning culture can always apply new ideas for improving safety and learn lessons from mistakes.