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Process Safety Management discussion paper published

02 December 2022

Queensland’s mining industry already has many of the elements necessary, including legislation, to meet the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry’s recommendation to separately address process safety and personal safety.

The 14 elements of process safety management

That is one of the key findings of a new discussion paper published by the Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health which assessed approaches comparable to process safety which are currently in place in the industry and what might be needed for the mining industry to adopt process safety strategies.

Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health Kate du Preez said the discussion paper was intended to generate a conversation in the industry around the Board of Inquiry’s recommendation and how adopting process safety could contribute to improving safety and health in the industry.

“The Board of Inquiry found that safety management systems in Queensland mines need to recognise that the causes of fatalities and catastrophic incidents differ from those that result in less significant injuries,” Kate said.

“The Board’s recommendation was for the industry to adopt strategies and performance measures to address process safety and personal safety separately.

“One of the key lessons from process industries—such as chemical and oil and gas production—is that traditional approaches to managing and reporting on personal safety hazards are not suitable for process safety type hazards.

“The findings of this discussion paper suggest that a process safety type discipline could provide a way to ensure these risks and their controls are given due attention distinct from personal safety, while still incorporating the expertise of technical teams.”

Kate said the discussion paper outlined some of the reasons why process safety approaches differ from mining approaches, despite seeking the same outcomes.

“While there are elements of process safety management which overlap considerably with existing practices in mining, there are some aspects of the mining environment that mean the direct application of process safety concepts would not be straightforward,” she said.

“Mining is uncertain, dynamic and has diverse hazards which are characteristics that are not as prevalent in other industries.

“However, despite these important distinctions, there are still many relevant and applicable aspects of process safety to mining.

“When applied effectively, process safety management encourages a focused approach to catastrophic hazards and how they are managed.

“However, in order for process safety and high reliability organisation theory to be effective, there is a need to consolidate the academic principles of process safety into mining terminology.

“This will increase clarity throughout all levels of an organisation”

Kate said the six findings in this discussion paper represented the beginnings of the conversation about the adoption of process safety management in the mining industry and the paper further mapped out the next steps required.

“I would encourage everyone involved in the mining industry to read the discussion paper and consider how process safety management can fit into their site’s safety and health management system,” she said.

Download the Process Safety Management discussion paper: Application and relevance to mining.

Last updated: 02 Dec 2022