As the mining sector continues to expand in Australia, the industry is going to have to become more cognisant of potential risks and the proper precautions to keep workers safe.

The coal mining industry continues to improve overall safety performance – both mines and contractors are driving down their injury and lost time statistics with rigorous adherence to safety procedures and ongoing compliance with safety management systems.

Many mine sites have set safety as a high priority and use measurements such as total recordable injury frequency and lost time injury frequency rates to benchmark their performance against industry standards and measure their progress over time. 

But mining companies should continue to go one step further to take responsibility for ensuring worker safety on-site and taking further operational and technological improvements can reduce major risks. 

Lucas Drilling

Lucas Drilling has a 22-year track record of delivering excellence in safe operations with an industry leading TRIFR of 1.29, but it is no accident how the company arrived at this statistic.

Mining operations can be inherently risky, and operators have a lot to manage to ensure that all personnel conduct work in a safe manner across the entire site. Inevitably, that means all work teams, contractors or suppliers must manage their operations by engaging with working personnel with the aim that every worksite adheres to the agreed ways of performing each task in a safe manner. No mining operator can be an expert on all tasks and Lucas, like all contractors, works with its mining customers to develop safe working practices capable of being implemented into the customer’s safety systems.

The purpose of safety management is to make the process of identifying, assessing and treating risk part of the way tasks are carried out. But, how effective can that be when we are dealing with humans who are not perfect? History would suggest that whilst safety has clearly improved, the search for better personnel engagement to form long term habits is an ongoing process, considering the industry staff turnover numbers and the volume of new starters now entering the industry each year.

Lucas is well known for its expertise in exploration, directional and large diameter drilling and by working with its customers has produced outstanding results. One of the safety engagement tools that Lucas uses is a Safety Leaders Forum.

In 2009 the first Safety Leaders Forum was held and it was identified that rig managers and supervisors were integral to safety leadership, with dedicated safety personnel bringing support to the operations, to ingrain safe operations at all field levels. It is no accident that the majority of the original attendees are still managing operations within Lucas.

Safety Leaders Forums have been held regularly ever since and the resulting business culture is one of safe operations, through direct engagement of all personnel at all levels and that has resulted in many operations have a zero TRIFR rate for many years.

As part of the Safety Leaders Forums a significant effort has been made to simplify safety systems and paperwork, both to avoid complexity and to increase engagement and compliance. Even now, the overall business TRIFR is industry leading.

Like every workplace culture, a refresh is needed to ensure that systems remain relevant and in tune with new equipment and methods of operation. The 2022/23 safety refresh is focused on a program to audit and manage critical tasks that Lucas crews undertake. The safety refresh is being developed and driven by the operational managers with regular peer reporting back to the senior management team as part of the overall Lucas commitment to ongoing safe operations.

To find out more, download the whitepaper below.