The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations, SI 133 of 2018 apply to all mines where people work.
They define duties for mine owners, operators, managers and employees with respect to people at or in the region adjacent to a mine.
Ireland has three underground mines that are currently in operation, namely Tara, Lisheen, and Drummond.
Some of the mining techniques used include stoping, benching, and backfilling.
Duties of Mine Operator
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018 Section 9, the general duties of an operator are to ensure:
1. The mine and machinery, tools and other articles are designed, built, equipped, operated and maintained in a way that doesn’t endanger workplace safety.
2. Any articles located in a fire or explosion prone zone within a mine is suitable for use in that specific area and fitted with appropriate protective devices.
3. Mechanical machinery and plant in the mine are adequately strong and free from defects and suitable for their intended purpose.
4. Electrical equipment and plant in the mine have a sufficient capacity for their intended purpose.
5. All work is planned and performed putting into consideration the elements of safety.
6. All mining activities are organized in order to provide protection against hazards and safeguard worker safety and health.
7. Work stations are designed and built according to the needs of employees.
8. A sufficient number of people with the necessary competence to do the work assigned to them are available.
9. The necessary supervision or communication means is provided in work stations with only one person.
10. The mine is left in a safe condition if mining activities are seized for good.
11. Enough safety equipment is kept in good working condition and available for use always.
Duties of Shift Boss
According to Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018 Section 16, the duties of a shift boss at a mine are to:
- Manage and control employees and tasks within his or her duty area.
- Discharge duties provided to him or her by the mine operator.
- Adhere to all mine instructions, regulations and working procedures issued by the operator.
- Perform or have a qualified individual conduct an inspection of the area of operation for ventilation, toxic gases, stability and general safety within two hours before work commencement.
- Ensure inspections are done at intervals not going beyond twelve hours at the working areas.
- Make a written record of the inspections.
- Visit working areas where employees under his or her direct charge are working at intervals of a maximum of four hours.
- Confirm, during the work hours of people under his or her direct supervision, the existence of hazardous gases and the ventilation condition of the working area.
- Fence off or assign competent people to fence off hazardous working areas and provide details in the general inspection report.
- Ensure all people entering working areas with at least two egress points are aquatinted with all of them.
- Give instructions to stop using any machinery or apparatus that is in an unsafe condition.
- Ensure that all workplaces of people under his or her immediate supervision are left in safe condition at the end of the shift.
- Create, within sixty minutes after the end of their shift, a written record of all tasks carried out by everyone under his or her direct charge.
- Give all the relevant safety and health information to the oncoming shift boss.
- Acquire all the relevant details for safety and health reasons from the vacating shift boss before work starts.
Section 17 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018 mandates that the mine operator shall make sure that:
- Written guidelines specifying regulations are paid attention to and operating procedures are set up in order to secure workplace safety.
- All necessary instructions, regulations and operating procedures are kept at the mine and issued to workers.
- All feasible measures are enforced, so that every person working at the mine acknowledges the instructions, regulations and operating procedures.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018 Section 42 define the duties for adequate ventilation. Mine operators should ensure that:
- Sufficient ventilation is available constantly in all underground mine areas where people work, or travel through.
- The atmosphere has adequate oxygen levels.
- Any flammable gas is rendered harmless through dilution.
- Working conditions have reasonable temperature and humidity levels.
- All mine exposure limit values are adhered to.
- Restrict or prevent access to areas that do not meet the ventilation requirements.
- Provide an automatic alarm that works in the event of an unplanned fan stoppage caused by an interruption to the primary ventilation system.
- Prevent harm to the health of people working underground from the detrimental impact of heat or extremes.
- Provide training on measures for avoiding the harmful effects of hot and humid conditions.
- Implement extra environmental controls for hot and humid mine conditions.
- Monitor the health of workers operating in areas that are likely to have hot and humid conditions.
Sections 48 and 49 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018 mandate operators to:
- Ensure correct design, operation and maintenance of excavations, tips and lagoons.
- Ensure tips and lagoons are built in order to avoid instability or movements that can endanger employee safety, health and welfare.
- Prepare operating procedures for the safe running of excavations, tips and lagoons, and specify how the operations will be performed.
Case Assessment Advice
If you are suffering from a mining accident at work, you can contact us by telephone or email and we will have an initial meeting with you to explore the facts and furnish a case opinion to you in respect of a mining accident claim.
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