Queensland Mines Inspectorate | Bulletin | No.207 V 1 | 07 December 2022
Managing the risks of storm season
The best way for your site to cope with a storm is to have a plan before it hits. Time and clear thinking are luxuries in an emergency situation, which is why it is so important to be prepared. Storms can damage your business through flooding, high winds, and flying debris. Having strategies in place to help cope with storms should make it easier for your site to minimise losses, maintain business continuity and recover quickly.
Getting your site ready for a storm includes - developing an emergency management plan (EMP) for your site, training your staff in first aid and evacuation procedures.
This bulletin contains useful information to help your site prepare for a storm, as well as individual checklists.
Recent severe weather events worldwide have again highlighted the destructive potential of storms and call for a high level of preparedness.
It is likely there will be an above-average number of tropical cyclones for the 2022–23 Australian tropical cyclone season (November–April). Refer to the Bureau of Meteorology website for more information.
How the risks can be managed
The site must ensure adequate resources, facilities and procedures are available before, during and after a storm.
The site's EMP covering these arrangements must be included in the Safety and Health Management System, Safety Management System, or Safety and Security Management System (system relevant to your site).
The EMP must be based on a risk assessment. The checklists in this bulletin include items to consider when preparing for and when recovering from storms.
There is an increased propensity for fume events and potential misfires in wet weather. Sites should take particular attention to the selection of explosives if blasting is to continue during the wet season.
If wild weather is forecasted, as a precaution sites should consult explosives manufactures and substitute dry hole products for wet hole equivalents.
Undertake a seasonal risk assessment
Before each storm season commences, develop a seasonal risk assessment based on the specific hazards that might be present on site:
- visually inspect the mine or site, including drainage structures.
- survey pick-ups to ascertain where drainage issues may exist.
- using weather modelling and information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
- review water management strategy with consideration of current levels and possible rain. Be aware of Safety Alert 408 - Impact of flooding on slope stability at mines and quarries.
- inspect buildings, workshops, demountables and shipping containers.
- use appropriate reports (e.g. water level reports, structural integrity, geotechnical hazards_
- use appropriate and relevant technical input
- consider using the "Preparing for a storm" checklist (Attachment 1) or a site-specific checklist.
Utilise the EMP, the EMP risk assessment and seasonal risk assessment to develop the seasonal action plan. Using a team approach, assign responsibility for actions and ensure that completed actions are tracked. You may consider assigning single point accountability for this action plan completion.
Ensure warning and evacuation systems work
A site's safety system should have:
- a process for identifying and warning anyone who could be affected by severe weather events.
- a system for moving people to a place of safety including considerations for evacuation of people off site.
- timely actions to bring risk into acceptable limits.
Ensure structures and buildings are sound. Storm events have resulted in improperly secured buildings being over-turned by strong winds, potentially causing severe injuries to anyone inside.
For this reason, there must be a system to ensure that temporary and semi-permanent relocatable structures on a site are adequately designed, located, constructed and anchored.
To prevent movement during a storm, single or multi-modular semi-permanent (or permanent) units (mobile dongas, offices, crib rooms or ablution blocks) must be mounted and anchored to pre-established concrete and steel pedestals and/or other specifically designed anchoring points, in accordance with building standards. Consider standalone rather than attached awnings for mobile huts. Also consider precautions for other structures vulnerable to the effects of strong wind, including workshops, tanks, conveyor belts or mobile equipment such as cranes.
Have a rescue system ready. An adequate emergency response and rescue system must be in place in case a severe weather event causes injury, entrapment or damage to buildings or infrastructure.
As part of the overall preparation process, everyone on site, including contractors, must be made aware of the site’s emergency response plan (including location of safe places) and what is expected of them.
All employees must be made aware of increased risk during lightning strikes. Refer to Safety Bulletin 205 - Risk management during lightning events.
Sites should also check their communication and mutual assistance protocols with adjacent mines or other offsite resources.
How can you recover
The storm may have passed, but hazards may remain.
Use the “Recovering from a storm checklist” (Attachment 2) before resuming normal operations. Note that the list does not cover your site-specific severe weather hazards.
References and further information
- Weather forecasting - Bureau of Meteorology
- Attachment 1 - Preparing for a storm checklist
- Attachment 2 - Recovering from a storm checklist
Hermann Fasching - Chief Inspector of Mineral Mines and Quarries and Chief Inspector of Explosives
Peter Newman - Chief Inspector of Coal Mines
Bill Date - Chief Inspector of Petroleum and Gas
Contact: Samantha Forster, Principal Occupational Hygienist , +61 7 3199 8001 QldMinesInspectorate@rshq.qld.gov.au
Issued by Resources Safety & Health Queensland
Placement: Place this announcement on noticeboards and ensure all relevant people in your organisation receive a copy, understand the content, findings and recommendations as applicable to their operation. SSEs should validate that recommendations have been implemented.