By on July 14, 2005

Are you doing all you can to prevent an incident?
Ron Kerr

The comments you are about to read are personal and are not to be taken as the opinion of the CMPA.

With the Annual General Meeting fast approaching on August 13th, I felt it was an appropriate time to re-evaluate our commitment to making our workplaces safer.

Over the last 12 months, the CMPA’s Secretariat, under the direction of the Management Committee and Members, has facilitated Risk Assessment Workshops, Work Safely and Red Card training, Conduct Local Risk Control and Perform Basic Cutting and Welding training, developed service and handover training resources for the wheel loader, excavator and dump truck, and is investigating the development of crushing and screening units.

The focus of this effort by the CMPA has been to improve the safety of our workforce. It must be clearly understood that these outcomes would not have been possible without the financial support of all Voting and non-Voting Members. It is with great pride that I look at the outcomes. To date the value given and received is immeasurable, so never think that your financial contribution has not been of benefit. It has, and in particular it has to those that work within the industry.

Do we put the same personal attention and commitment to our employees, managers and owners who have selected the extractive industry as a vocation as we do the primary crusher, number 1 screening station, conveyor number 1 or a face loader which we are responsible for?

Before you answer this question, I would ask you to consider a few facts. Your face loader is being regularly serviced, with diagnostics, oil changes, adjustments, re-calibration, replacement of worn components, fuel refilled, and water checks all occurring. Now can you honestly say that the same attention is being put into your employees?

Considering where the CMPA started as an Association 5 years ago, and the challenges that have resulted from the sun setting and removal of the Acts and Regulations which oversaw our sector, many Members have actively participated and are slowly accepting the state’s OH&S Act’s objective of an ever evolving safety culture within the workplace. I feel that many of those I have contacted are doing a remarkable job in this area – they are proactive on their worksites, they are involving their employees, they are giving of their time and financial resources to assist others in ensuring a safer industry.

Even though we are witnessing an acceptance to these changes, there is still clear evidence that not all within our industry are fully committed, and this must be addressed. This issue is highlighted through the near misses, incidents, non commitment to training, lack of assistance towards others, or sites which are non-compliant to the Acts and Regulations which are governing them.

There have been a number of significant incidents over the last 12 months, which may have been prevented were total site participation in all activities by those involved accepted as common practice.

Evidence is suggesting that we may need to be doing more to move away from a mind set totally focused on production and profit statistics alone. The protection of those we are responsible for on our sites must become our primary focus, by advocating that the community moves the focus of safety into the classroom, that a supplier’s interest is primary to the offering of consumables to the end user, that safety is identified in our business’ Chart of Accounts, and that the number of and skill of our managers and workforce is proportional to this outcome.

We may need to assess whether the depth of our management system is suitable to overlap all key activities (risks). We must link sales with the capacity (design) of the plant and the number of employees identified and participating in that outcome. There must be sufficient capacity in these components to allow these sales outcomes and on-going employee enhancement to occur in unison.

A few thoughts in conclusion…

I feel that the time has already passed by when a sale should be directed to another supplier without fear of losing that customer if we are unable to meet the above outline, and that the true cost of protecting the employee is reflective in the sale of materials offered to the market.

It is unreasonable or even unethical for a customer to request the lowest possible price, but not have an understanding of what is practicable when it comes to the production and supply of that product. Clearly the existing OH&S Act is indicating the Government’s recognition of this fact. In other words, the principle I feel, already has an obligation to ensure that the price that is demanded will not endanger those who are left with the responsibility of processing it.

Finally, there is clearly evidence where some of those in the industry are preparing to exit. This can be either put down to private family reasons, the fear of their inability to comply, import pressure being applied to the goods and services they are providing, market pressure from competitors with profoundly greater processing capacity and market, and/or their inability to attract permanent, quality labour to their worksites.

As such, it is a massive challenge for our industry to recognise and apply the resources at its disposal to be compliant, as well as to generate a profit or even attract new participants into the industry.

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