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Queensland Mines Inspectorate | Bulletin | No.192 V 1 | 21 December 2020

Managing the risks of storm season 2020/21

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 guide contains useful information to help your site prepare for a storm, as well as individual checklists.

OUTLOOK

Recent severe weather events worldwide have again highlighted the destructive potential of storms and call for a high level of preparedness.

An average to slightly-above-average number of tropical cyclones are expected for the 2020–21 Australian tropical cyclone season (November–April). Refer to Bureau of Meteorology website for more information

HOW THE RISK 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 at the end of this bulletin include items to consider when preparing for or recovering from storms.

Explosives - 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. Sites should be consulting explosives manufacturers and substituting dry hole products for wet hole equivalents prior to the event taking place as a precaution when wild wet weather is forecast.

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 by:

  • visually inspecting the mine or site, including drainage structures using survey pick-ups to ascertain where drainage issues may exist.

  • using weather modelling and information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
  • reviewing water management strategy with consideration of current levels and possible rain.
  • inspecting buildings, workshops, demountable’ s, shipping containers.
  • using appropriate reports (e.g. water level reports, structural integrity, geotechnical hazards).
  • using appropriate technical input.

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 sites 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 the 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.

COMMUNICATE

As part of the overall preparation process, everyone on-site, including contractors, must be made aware of the site’s emergency response plan (including the location of safe places) and what is expected of them.

In particular, all employees must be made aware of procedures covering lightning strikes to rubber-tyred vehicles. Refer Lightning strikes on rubber-tyred vehicles

Sites should also check their communication and mutual assistance protocols with adjacent mines or other offsite resources.

RECOVERY

The storm may have passed, but hazards may remain.

Use the checklist Recovering from a storm checklist 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 Meteorolgy

Authorised by Hermann Fasching - Chief Inspector – Mineral Mines & Quarries

Contact: Samantha Forster, Principal Occupational Hygienist , +61 7 3199 8001

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.
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.