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Coal Inspectorate | Bulletin | No.196 V 1 | 05 August 2021

Learnings from conducting Level Two Emergency Exercises in Queensland Coal Mines

Effectiveness of emergency management procedures

This Safety Bulletin summarises a review of the reports compiled by Coal Mines following the Level Two Exercise in 2020. It highlights the requirements to conduct the annual exercise and the learnings for industry identified during the exercise. Site Senior Executives (SSEs) should review their emergency preparedness process against learnings contained in this notice.

The requirement for annual level two mine emergency exercises are prescribed in the Recognised Standard 08 - Conduct of mine emergency exercises and in section 35 Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2017.

Exercises Conducted in 2020

All underground mines conducted an exercise and submitted a report for 2020. There was one opencut mine that did not conduct an exercise and submit a report for 2020.

Learnings

The review identified the following exercise plan learnings.

1.  Organising emergency exercises

Recognised Standard 08 places the obligation of convening the organisational committee onto the SSE. While it does not prescribe, it does suggest the involvement of the Site Safety and Health Representative (SSHR) and a member of the Queensland Mines Rescue Service (QMRS). Most exercises were organised by Senior Management who would, in turn, be part of the Incident Management Team (IMT) being tested.

Learning - The organising committee should be made up of personnel outside of the Senior Management Team and Emergency Response Team (ERT) Members. This will ensure the effectiveness of the IMT is tested. The SSHR and QMRS should be involved in the exercise.

2.  Exercise duration

The average time allocated for conducting an exercise was approximately 90 minutes. While this may test the responders it would appear to be difficult to test the effectiveness of the IMT. Underground mines tended to allocate a longer time period.

Learning - The time allocated for the exercise must be sufficient to test all identified aspects of the emergency preparedness procedure which includes the IMT.

3.  Time of day exercise was conducted

Exercises conducted were held during the week and on dayshift.

Learning - It is beneficial to conduct exercises on a back shift and/or on the weekend. This would test the IMT capability when the majority of senior management would be off-site.

4.  Scenarios

Mines have varied scenarios each year however the complexity of the scenarios was limited and hence did not test all aspects of the emergency preparedness procedure.

Learning - Scenarios should reflect a failure of a Principal Hazard Control and be of a complexity that tests large parts of the emergency preparedness procedure.

5.  Exercise reports

The standard of reports submitted in 2020 has improved significantly from previous years.

Learning - There is an ongoing requirement for action plans to address corrective actions to be included.

Common industry operational safety learnings

  1. Communication - Poor two-way radio and phone coverage. This made it difficult for responders to communicate amongst themselves and then relay information back to IMT.
  2. Communication - There needs to be a clear understanding between the IMT and responders regarding what information is required.
  3. Communication - There needs to be a dedicated radio channel between the IMT and first responders.
  4. Communication - The emergency tone interfered with the communication between first responders, IMT and other responders.
  5. General First Aid - Examples of poor patient care and management. A higher standard is required. Patients are not always checked to identify all injuries.
  6. Duty Cards - A regular review is required to ensure they contain the correct and relevant information. Examples being phone numbers and site personnel. Additional training apart from exercises needs to be conducted. Refresher training is required on Duty Cards.
  7. Duty Cards - Copies of duty cards need to be kept in other locations other than IMT room.
  8. Response Equipment and Vehicles - Regular audits need to be conducted of response equipment to ensure it is fit for purpose and ready for use.
  9. Incident Management - The IMT needs to be robust enough that it can function without senior management being onsite. Additional people need to be trained in the IMT function.
  10. Incident Management - There were a large number of people in the IMT room that were not required which made communicating difficult. Numbers in IMT room need to be kept to only those required.
  11. Incident Management - There was no dedicated IMT room.
  12. Incident Management - IMT room was not set up with all relevant equipment.
  13. ERT Members - Ensure ERT members competencies are kept current. ERT members must be released from their normal roles to attend any required training.
  14. ERT Members - No ERT members trained in the use of personal gas monitors.

References and further information

Authorised by Peter Newman - Chief Inspector – Coal

Contact: Graham Callinan, Inspector of Mines , +61 7 4936 0119

Issued by Resources Safety & Health Queensland

Safety: This information is a guide only and is issued to promote safety through experience. It is not to be taken as a statement of law and must not be construed to waive or modify any legal obligation.
Security: This information is a guide only and is issued to promote security through experience. It is not to be taken as a statement of law and must not be construed to waive or modify any legal obligation.
General: This information is a guide only. It is not to be taken as a statement of law and must not be construed to waive or modify any legal obligation.
Placement: Place this announcement on noticeboards and ensure all relevant people in your organisation receive a copy.