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In the civil engineering field the use of design codes is common. One of the main purposes of such codes is to ensure that ‘standardised’ and proven design procedures and designs are carried out, incorporating adequate factors of safety and that the safety of the public is therefore protected. In the mining environment there is usually no access to mining excavations by members of the public and only experienced mining personnel have such access. Visitors to a mine are always accompanied by experienced one of such personnel. In addition, mining excavations often have a much shorter life than civil excavations and economy of operation is essential to optimise the profitability of mining operations. The perception of risk in the two environments is therefore understandably different. Is a process similar to that used in civil engineering, in which codefied designs are used, appropriate in the rock engineering field in mining? This question will be considered in the paper, making use of relevant civil engineering codes and the former guideline document issued by the South African Department of Minerals and Energy for the compilation of a Mandatory Code of Practice to combat rock fall and rockburst accidents in mines. In addition, moral and ethical issues associated with engineering design will be considered in answering the question.
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