The mine operator must prepare an emergency plan for the mine.

The mine’s emergency plan must address all matters relating to responses to emergencies including:

  • establishing systems to enable all persons at the mine to be promptly located
  • provision of adequate rescue equipment
  • training of an adequate number of persons to use the rescue equipment and to be available to respond in the event of an emergency at the mine
  • adequate patient transport from the mine.

Underground mines have additional specific requirements that must be met in their emergency plan such as:

  • emergency exits
  • safe escape and refuge
  • signage
  • self-rescuers
  • personal protective equipment.

Additional matters to be included in the emergency plan are contained at Schedule 22 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations.

The detail and complexity of the emergency plan will depend on the number of workers, and the size and complexity of the mining operation.

In developing, testing and preparing the emergency plan, the mine operator must consult with:

  • workers
  • the local primary emergency service
  • the local authority if there are principal mining hazards that may impact on the local area in the event of an emergency
  • any other relevant emergency services.

The emergency plan must be tested and reviewed regularly.

Withdrawal from mine to place of safety

There will be situations that arise where it will be necessary to withdraw workers and others from the mine as a precautionary measure. Withdrawal is different from emergency evacuations in that an emergency has not occurred but a risk in the mine has increased (eg through fumes building up underground, initial indications of possible dangerous ground conditions, dust build-up). These conditions must be identified and documented by the mine operator as ‘triggers’ to prompt withdrawal of persons from the mine as a precaution.

The table below sets out the most common withdrawal conditions and recommends some specific items to cover off in developing procedures to address the conditions.

Conditions Procedure (initial action)
Excess fumes in the mine Withdraw to above ground and assess cause and situation to safely establish controls
Initial signs of possible ground movement Withdraw to safe place in mine and assess the situation
Potential downpour of rain or storm Withdraw to surface before area or equipment becomes hazardous and assess before returning underground
When excavating and finding a sudden change (eg unusually damp area at the face Withdraw and assess whether there is water build-up behind the face being excavated