Minesafe International 2017 conference recap

  • By Richard Flanagan FAusIMM, Minesafe International 2017 Organising Chair

Minesafe International 2017: The Resource Industry Health & Safety Conference was held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from 1-2 May.

181 attendees gathered to share their experiences, research, practice, views, goals and achievements relating to health and safety within the resource industry.

In planning and proposing this conference to the AusIMM, there were three main goals: bringing the conference under the AusIMM conference banner, running a successful inaugural conference and establishing the conference as a series.

The inaugural AusIMM Minesafe International Conference achieved those three primary goals and it is now set to be a significant event in the series of AusIMM conferences. The quality of the keynote speakers, authors, presentations and above all the delegates made it such a successful conference.

The conference was aimed at safety professionals, site managers, researchers, regulators, legislators, consultants, academics, engineers, safety practitioners, operators and other resource industry professionals. The success of the conference can be measured by the calibre of attendees and two significant associated aspects. The first was that this was one of the highest cross-section representations among the attendees, indicating the wide interest and response. The second was that the conference attracted one of the highest percentages of attendees from outside of the AusIMM membership. This again reflects the acceptance and relevance of the conference to the resource industry at large.

The conference was officially opened by Hon Bill J Johnston MLA, Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Commerce and Industrial Relations; Electoral Affairs; Asian Engagement. The Minister brought a message from the Premier with well-wishes for a successful conference.

AusIMM President Colin Moorhead, the Honourable Bill Johnston MLA, and Conference Chair Richard Flanagan.

The significant contribution to the conference from a wide cross-section of the resource industry and aspects relating to health reflected both intent and acceptance from those sectors. We can expect that contribution to grow with future Minesafe International conferences. While the call for papers outlined some six themes and 23 sub-themes for authors to consider, the conference was delivered around the following themes in eight sessions:

  • leadership
  • principal hazard management
  • current and emerging health issues
  • risk management
  • the Jim Torlach Memorial Session (incorporating ‘New lessons from an old hazard – black lung’ and risk management, along with the AusIMM Health and Safety Society panel session on ‘Health and safety – what are we doing about it?’)
  • legislative and corporate responsibility
  • psychosocial management and emerging health issues
  • safety culture.

Each session included a keynote presentation that contributed significantly to the session and we were fortunate to have the following keynote speakers, who make outstanding contributions in their respective fields, deliver the following presentation at Minesafe International 2017:

  • Joanne Farrell Group executive, Health, Safety & Environment, RioTinto
    ‘Personal leadership – the first priority in safety’
  • Trish Kerin CEO, IChemE Safety Centre
    ‘Similarities and differences in the approach to health and safety by minerals, oil and gas’
  • Eduard (Eddy) Haegal Asset President Nickel West, BHP Billiton
    ‘Nickel West asset integrity – investing in our future’
  • Peter Wilkinson General Manager, Risk, Noetic Group
    ‘BP Macondo/Deepwater Horizon oil field disaster – are there any learnings for the mining industry?’
    In conjunction with a short presentation by ACT Australian Productions on:
    ‘Deepwater – impacts following the incident investigation’
    (Susan Fleming Director ACT Australia and New Zealand)
  • Malcolm Sim Director, Monash Centre for Occupational & Environmental Health, Monash University; Head of review committee (Black Lung)
    ‘New lessons from an old hazard – black lung in Queensland coal miners’
  • Gerard Forlin QC Barrister, Cornerstone Barristers
    ‘A legal perspective on health and safety and corporate governance; where are we now?’
  • Dr Liz Vuletich Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, Director MindLink Psychology,
    Director Miners’ Promise
    ‘Trauma, if, and when, it happens…right?’
  • Niall Myles Senior Vice President, Australia Operating Unit, Woodside Energy Ltd
    ‘Process Safety – Woodside’s “Line led, risk based” approach’.

The keynote presentations are not published papers and needed to be experienced to gain the full value and impact of each. Some highlights include:

  • The values and usefulness of the personal leadership component of Joanne Farrell’s presentation.
  • The simple truth and honesty behind the presentation by Eddy Haegel and the lurking potential hazard with some old asset infrastructure and the measures adopted to counter them.
  • The production and keynote on BP Macondo/Deepwater oil field disaster by ACT Australia and Peter Wilkinson needed to be experienced to appreciate but the lessons learnt for directors to operators was significant to the conference.
  • The ‘New lessons from an old hazard – black lung’ was both revealing and concerning in how it could happen. We will continue to hear more on both the disastrous impact and what must be in place to prevent this and similar dark events re-occurring.
  • The presentation on a legal perspective on health and safety and corporate governance was an outstanding presentation with Gerard in his courtroom persona and outlining numerous legal scenarios that could befall a number of us in the resource industry unless we apply due diligence to a high degree. His involving the attendee throughout the presentation kept the audience on their toes. His presentation could have easily have been longer had time permitted, but no one appeared to want it to finish. The only drawback was there was insufficient time for questions – or was that the art and professionalism of the presentation? A number of likely questions from the floor following that presentation may have been ruled out of order or simply not able to be addressed such was the excellent content of the presentation.

The quality of the papers and their conference presentations was extremely high and to attempt to summarise even a few could do injustice to them and would do injustice to those not summarised. The full papers are available as an e-book on the AusIMM Shop. You are encouraged to explore the papers and I strongly recommend them to you.

The evening of the first day provided excellent networking time over dinner with few formalities to contend with. Of note was the Minister Hon Bill Johnston MLA joining the dinner and no doubt it provided, as designed, an opportunity for networking for him as well as the delegates.

The committee announced that three papers from the conference had been selected to be nominated in the annual Best Paper Prize to the author of an outstanding technical paper accepted and published by the AusIMM in a conference proceedings volume. Those papers and their authors are:

  • ‘The prevalence of mental health problems in the metalliferous mining sector’ – C James, R Tynan, J Rich and B Kelly
  • ‘A change in focus from safety culture to human factors – proposed “top 11” human factor topics for the Western Australian mining industry’ – A Chaplyn, R Lardner and J G Pickering.

The conference was preceded by the challenging ‘UQR!SK Critical Control Masterclass’ workshop hosted by the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland and held on Sunday 30 April.

As stated in closing Minesafe International 2017 it was my privilege to work with such a dedicated committee and I repeat my appreciation of the significant contribution made to the success of this conference by authors, reviewers, sponsors, exhibitors, session chairs, presenters, keynote speakers, delegates and the events, publishing and marketing sections of the AusIMM.

If you were one of those unfortunately not to have attended Minesafe International 2017 I suggest you go online to http://www.ausimm.com.au/publications/publication.aspx?ID=17198 and settle back with the conference e-book and catch up on what you missed. Don’t forget to earmark 2019 for the second AusIMM Minesafe International again in Perth. Until then stay healthy and safe.

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