Report: APP CMHS Project 4

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2.1.14. Effectiveness of Risk Management Process

2.1.14. Effectiveness of Risk Management Process

A study undertaken by the University of Arizona in conjunction with the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre demonstrated the effectiveness of risk management in terms of decreasing lost time injury frequency rates. The study analysed annual lost-time injury (LTI) rates for bituminous coal mines in the United States (US) with respect to Queensland (QLD) and New South Wales (NSW), Australia from 1996 to 2003. Using the available data sources, changes in the occurrences of accidents and injuries were contrasted between each of these regions. The relationship between injury rates and changes in the Australian regulatory structure from compliance-based to a risk-based approach was examined to see if evidence existed that the implementation of risk-based regulatory systems may be associated with improvement in employee safety. From 1996 to 2003, LTIs per 100,000 miners declined 20% in the US as compared with 78% and 52% in QLD and NSW, and the adjusted incident ratio rates (IRR) for each region decreased by 11%, 72% and 44%, respectively (Figure 4 and Figure 5). The application of risk-based health and safety regulations in Australia provides one explanation for the differential decline in LTIs among Australian states when compared to the US.

Figure 4 Comparison of incident rates

Figure 5 Comparison of incident rate ratios

The fatalities rates in Australia and the United States shows a similar comparison. Table 9 shows the comparison for the years 1997 – 2007 based on information from the Minerals Council of Australia, (MCA, 2008)

Table 9 Comparison of fatality rates

Mining sector


United States

Metalliferous underground



Metalliferous surface



Coal underground



Coal surface



The general downward trends in Australian mining fatality and injury rates are, in part, attributed to the introduction and acceptance of risk-based management systems.

The evolution of risk management in the Australian mining industry has been influenced by expanding knowledge and tools as well as by the greater understanding of the hazards that need to be addressed. Regulatory agencies, which tend to react to incidents, have also enacted measures to prevent recurrences. The implementation of risk management across the Australian mining industry has been driven by the legislative need to address the major hazards within the industry and the recognition of the benefits of the risk management processes both by regulators and companies. The implementation has occurred in different timeframes across the states and to some extent, this evolutionary process reflects the maturity of application of the risk management framework.

2.1.14. Effectiveness of Risk Management Process

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