A recent injury at an underground mine in Queensland has highlighted the importance for mine operators to ensure that any safety footwear in use on site is appropriately rated for the risks identified. The incident involved an employee sustaining a serious puncture wound to the foot when a piece of galvanised reinforcing mesh penetrated the sole of a rubber gumboot.
Hazards that may pose a risk to employee health and safety in relation to footwear at a mine can include:
- sharp and abrasive rocks
- exposed reinforcing
- slippery or low traction surfaces
- hot or cold surfaces
- chemical exposure
- electrically charged objects
Recommended ways to control risks
Mine operators should also ensure that the safety footwear required on site is appropriate for the work being undertaken and is rated to provide the maximum protection for employees. For example, ensuring footwear is impact or puncture resistant.
The ratings and markings that are applicable to safety footwear can be found in AS/NZS 2210.3:2019 - Personal Protective Equipment – Safety Footwear.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, mine operators must:
- identify all mining hazards at their mine and assess associated risks, so far as is reasonably practicable
- so far as is reasonably practicable, implement risk controls that eliminate or reduce risks at the mine
- provide appropriate personal protective equipment when risks associated with their mine remain after all other reasonably practicable steps have been taken to reduce those risks.
- AS/NZS 2210.3:2019 - Personal Protective Equipment – Safety Footwear