Coal Services prides itself on its ongoing commitment to the health and safety of the NSW coal mining industry. This commitment is steeped in history, having been involved in the industry in one form or another for almost 100 years.
Coal Services is an industry-owned organisation committed to providing critical services and expertise to the NSW coal mining industry. Jointly owned by two shareholders, the NSW Minerals Council and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), their purpose, vision and values are aligned to focus on the safety and health of our industry and its workers.
Heading up the organisation is CEO Lucy Flemming, who sat down with @ The Coalface to reflect on the year 2019 as it comes to a close.
“It’s been a busy year for the industry and for Coal Services. Across our industry we have seen indicators of growth which are also reflected in parts of our business, such as attendances at training and occupational health services,” said Lucy.
Lucy explained that these are just some of the company’s services that help to deliver on their purpose, ‘to protect’.
“Many of your readers will be familiar with the work we do. For example, health surveillance, dust monitoring, mines rescue safety training and workers compensation. Our organisation exists for the sole purpose of protecting the health and safety of workers in the industry; to make sure workers go home to their loved ones after every shift.”
“We have worked hard as an industry to maintain some of the best health and safety standards in the world. This doesn’t just happen, but is a result of concerted efforts to safeguard against injury and occupational disease. Our industry’s regulations, safety culture and improvements in technology and work practices over the years has certainly had a positive influence.”
And the statistics certainly back that up. At the end of June 2019, the NSW coal industry claims frequency rate was 4.3%. Compare that to the year 2001-02, when around 1 in 4 workers sustained a workplace injury and the claims frequency rate was around 25%. The claims frequency rate has declined steadily since that time to around 1 in 23 workers, a reduction of more than 80%. A remarkable achievement.
“The results we are achieving in NSW are a reflection of the commitment of all of our industry stakeholders working together. By no means does it mean that we have nothing more to do. Prevention is really the focus and our priority; and everyone has a role to play in this. The work we do supports workers, employers, the Resources Regulator and other industry bodies to help keep workers safe,” said Lucy.
Coal Services work with a collaborative model unlike any other worldwide, connected through a common purpose – to protect. They do this in many ways.
Under the NSW Coal Industry Act 2001, Coal Services is tasked with executing NSW government Orders 34 (training), 40 (dust abatement), 43 (health surveillance) and 42 (dust monitoring) to work with coal mining companies on dust mitigation and control techniques and health surveillance.
They also operate a Specialised Health and Safety Scheme that provides an integrated suite of services aimed at preventing injury and illness in the workplace. These services help employers to identify, assess, monitor and control many risks inherent in the NSW coal mining industry.
“Managing health and safety is our business. We regularly review our processes as part of business as usual activity. As industry has changed in line with technology and mining processes, so too have our health and dust monitoring processes,” Lucy explained.
“We will continue to grow and adapt just like the industry will in the coming years, but we will never forget our core purpose – to protect,” said Lucy.
|THE YEAR IN REVIEW
At 30 June 2019 there were 41 coal mining operations in NSW, responsible for winning 256 million tonnes of raw coal during the year.
During the year there was net job growth of 4.3 per cent, taking the production workforce at NSW coal mines to 22,308 full time equivalent workers.
In the twelve months ending 30 June 2019:
• 10,917 pre-placement and periodic medical assessments to monitor the health of the workforce and protect against occupational disease.
• 19,719 attendances at Mines Rescue training courses, helping to build safety leaders for the industry. This figure includes attendances at the Generic Underground Induction for coal mines which has grown for the third consecutive year.
• 3,696 respirable and inhalable dust samples on workers across every coal mine site in the state. Airborne dust exposure standard exceedance rates in the NSW coal industry continue to improve year on year which is significant from a health risk perspective.
• 14,096 calibrations of gas detection equipment to help keep mine environments at safe levels of flammable and noxious gases.