MINING has definitely been made safer over the years, but mines are still among the most hazardous places to work. The causes can be numerous, from explosive dust and toxic gases to collapse of mine shafts, and consequences severe, with thousands of fatalities each year.

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A new standard has been developed to classify mine accidents by type and cause.

When an incident occurs – and due to many factors being at play, a wide range of accidents can pccur – it can be hard to understand precisely what’s happened.

A key step in preventing accidents is to classify them by type and by cause. This is where ISO 19434 comes in. It has been developed by the ISO Technical Committee on Mining. Convenor of the committee’s working group on classification of mine accidents, Seyed Reza Hosseini, explains that the standard represents a new direction for their work.

“Until now ISO mining standards mostly looked at safety features for machinery. ISO 19434 looks at the accidents themselves, giving each accident a code that indicates its causes and consequences.”

With the entire industry working to further improve the safety of their operations, there are clear advantages of a unified system to understand the main types of accidents.

Using the classification given in ISO 19434, one can identify whether accidents have occurred due to human error or other causes. It gives a shared understanding on key issues.

Seyed Reza Hosseini points out that “This International Standard defines not only the main types of accidents but, importantly, provides information about the nature of any injuries that have occurred, defining their location and to what degree personnel are affected.”

With the publication of ISO 19434, a long-standing need has been addressed for a comprehensive mine accidents classification system that could present a standard scheme for all factors associated with the accidents. This will enable full analysis based on both software systems and manual assessment.

By presenting a common, understandable language for communication between all parts involved in safety, health and environment issues in mines, the hope is that working conditions can continue to improve across all operations in the mining sector.

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