Serious injuries in the mining industry: Preparing the emergency response
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Paramedics are employed by Australian and international mining and petroleum organisations to provide emergency medical response, injury prevention, health promotion, chronic disease management, medical referral, primary healthcare and repatriation co-ordination for miners in exploration, construction and production. These are challenging roles given the often isolated, potentially hazardous and clinically unpredictable nature of the sites where these paramedics work. The purpose of this article is to review injuries that occurred in the mining industry with a view to sharing this information with paramedics who work within the mining sector.
Data was collected under legislative authority by the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS). Data efficacy was optimised via strong legislative support whereby all organisations involved in mining activities are legally compelled to report to the DMIRS all accidents involving injury.
A total of 837 injuries were reported during the 6-month period between 1 July and 31 December 2013. These comprised 658 serious injuries, including three fatalities, and 179 minor injuries. Sprains and strains were the most common injury comprising 69% of injuries followed by fractures 10%, lacerations 6%, crushing injuries 5%, bruises and contusions 4%, and dislocations and displacements 2%. Foreign bodies, punctures, bites, amputations, chemical effects, thermal burns, flash and arc burns and loss of consciousness each recorded less than 1% of the injuries.
Findings presented in this article can be used by paramedics working in the mining sector across Australia and worldwide. Paramedic awareness of the nature and cause of injury is useful for optimally preparing paramedics to perform appropriate diagnosis and treatment and to minimise patient mortality and morbidity.