Notes from the AusIMM Health and Safety Society Chair

  • By Geoff Sharrock HonFAusIMM, Interim Chair, AusIMM Health and safety Society Committee

Welcome to the AusIMM Health and Safety (H&S) Society newsletter.

In 2018, we have three new elected members of our committee. They will serve until 2020. We welcome Jo Barron-Perry, Peter Newman and Richard Carlton (who has provided a profile here).

The Health and Safety Committee is also happy to share the news that one of our members, Dr Peter Standish, has recently been appointed by the NSW Minister for Resources as an independent member of the Mines and Petroleum Competency Board. This Board has the function of setting standards to be achieved by people that have a safety critical role and carry out a statutory function at a mining operation. The Board also provides oversight of the competency examination boards who assess new applicants for these statutory functions.

There are some interesting articles in this newsletter, which I am sure you will find enlightening. The H&S Society committee had our face-to-face meeting in Melbourne late last year at the AusIMM offices. At the meeting we developed an interesting and varied program for 2018.

One of the purposes of the Health and Safety Society is to be a thought leader on H&S matters. To help us to achieve that intention, we are producing webinars with distinguished speakers. Our next webinar was ‘Evolving Operational Risk Thinking and Practices Toward a Focus on Effective Controls‘, presented by Jim Joy on 28 June and will be available shortly to purchase. We also have a previously recorded webinar, ‘Pike River: What we can’t afford to forget‘ by Stewart Bell available to purchase.

This newsletter has an update on the status of ACARP-funded H&S research projects. This will be a regular feature in our newsletters and is a way for members to be informed on current health and safety research in the coal industry.

Earlier this year, I attended a workshop on respirable dust exposure at the University of Wollongong as part of the Coal 2018 conference. The workshop was conducted by our committee member Professor David Cliff. There were some excellent presentations and we are hoping that in the future some of these presentations can be delivered as webinars for our society this year.

As a number of committee members noted at our last face-to-face meeting, as an industry we have made great strides in improving safety over the past two decades; however, we have not concentrated enough on health. Now that we know there has been a resurgence of the detection of pneumoconiosis (black lung) in Queensland coal this has led to initiatives such as the recent commissioning of an ACARP study into dust control, the trends in exposure of workers to coal dust and improvements to dust monitoring techniques. We are now seeing the focussing of more research into the ‘H’ aspect in the H&S space.

I hope you get value from our newsletter.


Geoff Sharrock HonFAusIMM

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