5.3 Mines

These specific OHS regulations for mining came into effect on July 1, 2007. Enforcement at mines was previously carried out by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), however since January 2008, WorkSafe has taken over the responsibility for the administration of OHS in Victoria's resource industries (mining, quarrying, onshore petroleum production and geothermal energy).

NOTE: this chapter of the regulations does not apply to Quarries.

Below is a summary of the main parts of this chapter.

  • Division 1 - Introductory matters, including definition of a mine, a mining hazard, and other matters.
  • Division 2 - Safety duties of mine operators
  • Division 3 -  Consultation and information
  • Division 4 - Duties of employees

Division 1 - Introductory matters

This division explains a number of key terms in this part, including: 

5.3.1 What is a mine?

A mine is an excavation in the earth from which ores and minerals are extracted (through mining), and can involve either underground or surface excavations. Under the OHS Regulations, a mine is a workplace where work is being done with a mining or exploration licence granted under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990.

5.3.2 What is a mining hazard?

A mining hazard is any activity, procedures, plant, process, substance, situation, etc that could pose a risk to health or safety in relation to a very long list of conditions, such as slope stability, rock falls, gas outbursts, loss of ventilation, etc.

5.3.3 - 5.3.5 On 'prescribed mines'  These are either an underground mine, or a mine (or class of mines) determined to be 'prescribed' by the Authority.  

5.3.6 Drugs and alcohol A person is adversely affected by alcohol or drugs if the person's capacity is impaired to the extent that the person may expose themselves or someone else to a risk to their health or safety.

Division 2 - Safety duties of mine operators

Subdivision 1 - Risk control in all mines

5.3.7 - 5.3.9 Identification of hazards and assessment and of risks

The operator of a mine must identify all mining hazards and assess the risks to health or safety associated with those risks, having regard to:

  • the nature of the mining hazard; and
  • the likelihood of the hazard causing or contributing to any harm of any person; and
  • the severity of the harm that may be caused.

The risk must be controlled (as far as reasonably practicable) by eliminating it or reducing it as far as practicable according to the heirarchy of control, that is by: 

  • substitution of a new activity, procedures, plant, process or substance;
  • isolation of persons from the hazard; then
  • engineering controls; then
  • and only once these have been used, administrative controls. 

If any controls are used and a risk remains, then appropriate PPE must be provided.

The operator must review and if necessary revise the identification of mining hazards, and the assessment and control of risks:

  • before any mine modification; or
  • after any incident involving a mining hazard occurs; or
  • if the operator removes a person as a result of health surveillance; or
  • after receiving a request from an OHS rep; and
  • in any case, at least every 3 years.

Subdivision 2 - Specific safety duties in all mines.

This subdivision does not limit Subdivision 1 in any way and covers the following:   

5.3.11 Who may enter a mine

The operator has a duty to ensure that:

  • no person other than an inspector or an ARREO enters the mine without permission
  • no person under 16 is employed at a mine
  • no person under 18 works underground 

5.3.12 Alcohol and drugs 

The operator of a mine must:

  • develop and implement strategies to protect persons at the mine from any risk to their health or safety arising from the consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs by any person;
  • ensure the strategies include risk control measures on the presence and use of alcohol and drugs during working hours;
  • ensure that a person who may be adversely affected by alcohol or durgs does not enter or remain at the mine;
  • ensure that a person only uses drugs at the mine if a registered medical practitioner has prescribed the drugs and authorised their use at the mine.

5.3.13 Employee fatigue 

The operator must develop and implement strategies for the control of any risk to health or safety associated with employee fatigue.  The strategies must include work arrangements that eliminate employee fatigue so far as reasonably practicable. 

5.3.14 - 5.3.17 Health Surveillance 

The operator must arrange for ongoing health surveillance of an employee (and independent contractor) who: 

  • is either exposed to a mining hazard that could have a detrimintal effect on their health, OR 
  • if in consultation with a registered medical practitioner, given the nature of the work, the health of an employee could expose that employee or others to a risk to health or safety.

The monitoring may include a medical examination which must be conducted

  • only in relation to the employee's work at the mine;
  • by, or under the supervision of, a registered medical practitioner;
  • at a frequency determined by the operator in consultation with the medical practitioner.

The operator must ensure that the person conducting the monitoring prepares a report of results that includes:

  • an explanation of the results of the monitoring; and
  • any indication of detrimental health effects identified; and
  • any recommendations by the medical practitioner as to measures the operator should take in relation to the person's work.

The operator must obtain a copy of the report and, under 2.1.4 of the regs, make a copy available to the employee to whom it relates as soon as reasonably practicable. 

The operator must notify the Authority in writing if any health surveillance report indicates detrimental health effects to any person, and as a result of the report that person is removed or assigned alternative work.

The operator must provide the original health surveillance report to the person if the person ceases to work at the mine.

5.3.18 - 19 Communication 

An operator must ensure that:

  • if any employee is working alone at an isolated location at a mine, there are available means for constant communication; and
  • there is a system by which
    • the supervisor of each outgoing shift provides a written report to the supervisor of the incoming shift on the state of the mine workings and plant, and any other matters relating to health or safety; and
    • the supervisor of the incoming shift communicates the content of the report to the employees of that shift.

Subdivision 3 - Additional duties in prescribed mines

This subdivision applies to mines that the Authority deems 'prescribed' under 5.3.3 - 5.3.5 - mines with increased risks.

An operator of a 'prescribed' mine must establish a Safety Management System as the primary means of ensuring the safe operation of the mine.  The Safety Management System must (5.3.21-5.3.24):

  • be documented
  • provide a comprehensive and integrate system for all risk control measures
  • be clearly set out and expressed
  • contain a description of the Safety Assessment of major mining hazards, conducted and documented in the manner specified in 5.3.23
  • contain a description of the operator's safety policy
  • set out the systems, procedures and other risk control measures to control risks
  • set out performance standards for measuring the effectiveness of the Safety Management System
  • set out the way the performance standards are to be met
  • set out the processes, including method and frequency, for the audit of the effectiveness of the plan against performance standards
  • be kept available for inspection on request
  • be reviewed if
    • a mine modification is made
    • an incident occurs

Further, the operator must test all risk control measures documented in the Safety Assessment as often as necessary to ensure that the risk is controlled.

5.3.25 Safety role for employees

The operator of a prescribed mine must develop a role for the employees, including the specific procedures employees are required to follow to assist the operator to:

  • identify hazards
  • conduct a Safety Assessment
  • adopt, review and test risk control measures
  • establish a Safety Management System

The operator must review the role of employees if there is any change of circumstances, including a mine modification, that would require additional or different knowledge or skills on the part of employees.  

Further sections in this subdivision set out the duties of the operator of a prescribed mine with respect to:

  • shafts and winding
  • progress of mine workings
  • emergency exit additional to the exit normally used
  • filling
  • working environment - ensuring that the air is maintained at a safe level (safe oxygen level and ensuring it does not contain a harmful levelof contaminant or impurity), the atmosphere so as to prevent thermal stress, the moisture so as to enable work to be performed safely, and adequate lighting
  • ventilation system and monitoring and testing of it
  • prohibition of use of an internal combustion engine or polyurethane foam
  • emergency plan and response - to be prepared in conjuntion with relevant emergency services
  • mine plan

Division 3 - Consultation and information

5.3.38 Consultation with employees and health and safety representatives

The operator of a mine must consult in relation to:

  1. developing and implementing strategies with relation to alcohol and drugs, and fatigue; and
  2. in the case of a prescribed mine -
    1. implementing a Safety Management System; and
    2. conducting a Safety Assessment; and
    3. developing a safety role for employees; and
    4. preparing or reviewing and revising an emergency plan.

5.3.39 Information about adoption of control measures  

If, after consulting as per s35 of the OHS Act, the operator adopts a risk control measure in the relation to a major mining hazard, the operator must inform the health and safety rep and, if there is no rep, the employees of:

  • reasons for adopting the measure; and
  • the reasons for rejecting any alternative risk control measures taht had been discussed during the consultation. 

5.3.40 - 5.3.45 Information, instruction and training

The operator must provide information, instruction and training to employees of the operator in relation to:

  • all mining hazards at the mine
  • the implementation of risk control measures
  • the strategies developed in relation to alcohol and drugs, and fatigue
  • in the case of prescribed mines -
    • the content and implementation of the Safety Management System
    • the emergency plan
    • the safety role for employees

The operator must monitor and review if necessary the information, instruction and training to ensure it remains relevant and effective; must make make a record of all training and keep those records while the employee is employed at the mine.

5.3.42 Further information

The operator of a prescribed mine must ensure that the following documents are readily accessible to employees:

  • the Safety Management System
  • the emergency plan
  • the plan of the mine

5.3.43 Response to employee alert at prescribed mine

If an employee gives information about a major mining hazard under regulation 5.3.47, the operator must inform the employee of what, if any, investigative or other action has been taken in response to that information.

5.3.44 Information to visitors

The operator of a mine must ensure that any person other than an employee of the operator who enters a mine is, as soon as possible after entering

  • informed about any mining hazards to which they may be exposed
  • instructed in the safety precautions they should take while at the mine
  • in the case of a prescribed mine, instructed about the action they should take in an emergency.

5.3.45 Information to job applicants

The employer must provide prospective employees information about the purpose, type and nature of any medicals examinations and other health surveillance required, prior to them being employed.

Division 4 - Duties of employees

5.3.46 General Requirements 

An employee of an operator must:

  • wear or use the appropriate PPE or rescue equipment provided by the operator;
  • follow all instructions given by the operator in complying with the regulation;
  • alert immediate co-workers to any mining hazard to which he/she becomes aware;
  • inform the operator if he/she observes any person who 'appears to be in such condition as to be a danger' to him/herself or anyone else;
  • not enter or remain at the mine if adversely affected by alcohol or drugs;
  • not, without the permission of the operator, take into the mine any alcohol, or any drugs that may adversely affect the employee (whether or not a registered medical practitioner has prescribed the drugs and authorised their use at work);
  • in the event of an incident involving a mining hazard, take corrective action, without placing anyone at risk, according to the instruction and training received - even if this action interrupts the operation of the mine.

5.3.47 Major mining hazards in prescribed mines

An employee at a prescribed mine must:

  • participate in the testing of the emergency plan;
  • follow the emergency plan when it is activated;
  • immediately inform the operator of any circumstance of any kind that the employee considers might be a major mining hazard.

See Also

  • The full text of the regulations can be viewed and downloaded from the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website -  click on Victorian Law Today, then on Statutory Rules, and then on "O" to find the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.
  • The WorkSafe webpage on mines provides advice, publications and more.

Last amended June 2015

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