I Remember When I Realised This Peer Assist Would Save Lives
The mine started its history as an open pit type mine but over the years the time that it took for trucks to get down to the bottom of the pit and back to the surface became uneconomical. This isn’t unusual for this type of mine, its part of the life cycle of the mine, so the time came for a shaft to be sunk and the mine to go underground.
It is well known that when a mine changes from a open pit to deep underground that the accident level increases dramatically. Suddenly you move from working in natural light to working in the light of your headlamp. Everywhere is in total darkness save for the area illuminated by your headlamp. The mine owners wanted to open this new deep shaft mine with fewer fatalities than had been achieved by any previous new deep shaft mine. They decided to hold a Peer Assist to transfer the learning from other mines into their development plans.
The leaders in each of the deep shaft mining disciplines were invited to attend the two day event. During that time the project team outlined the approach that they were taking and listened to the suggestions offered by the visitors. What was interesting was the impact that what seemed to be very small changes in the design / implementation of the new mine could have on safe operations.
The mine not only opened with much lower fatalities than comparable mines but its on-going safety record was much better.
The Peer Assist also had a secondary outcome: the mine was opened faster than originally scheduled and at the saving of several million dollars.