Owen, ML 2009, 'Workforce exposure to rockfalls in underground mines', in PM Dight (ed.), Proceedings of the First International Seminar on Safe and Rapid Development Mining
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 33-46.
Risk assessment and workplace safety is a hot topic in the mining industry. Recent years of media interest
have seen mine safety being dissected in the public domain. The application of risk analysis techniques to the
management of personnel safety is being promoted by both industry and regulators but, particularly for
geotechnical hazards, often there are inadequate databases for a meaningful quantitative calculation of risk.
This paper presents an empirical model for quantifying the exposure of personnel to geotechnical hazards in
underground mines. The exposure model parameters relate to temporal, spatial and vulnerability
probabilities as developed by Owen (2004), using both empirical data and mechanistic principles.
Ultimately, the model gives the relative level of exposure of mine personnel to rockfalls/rockbursts before
converting the exposure rating to a probability of fatality, correlated with mining accident statistics. This
allows the effectiveness of various risk reduction strategies to be more accurately assessed so efforts can be
prioritised, bringing the mining industry more in line with risk assessment and reporting practices within the
Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS) (2000) Australian Geomechanics Society Sub-Committee on Landslide Risk
Management, Landslide Risk Management, Australian Geomechanics, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 49–92.
Australian Rockfall Database (2001) CD rom format only, Australian Centre for Geomechanics.
Australian Standards (AS) 1801 (1997) Occupational Protective Helmets. Standards Association of Australia.
Australian Standards (AS) 2294.2 (1997) Earth-moving machinery — Protective structures. Part 2: Laboratory tests and
performance requirements for roll-over protective structures. Standards Association of Australia.
Workforce exposure to rockfalls in underground mines M.L. Owen
46 SRDM 2009, Perth, Australia
Australian Standards (AS) 2294.3 (1997) Earth-moving machinery — Protective structures. Part 3: Laboratory tests and
performance requirements for falling object protective structures. Standards Association of Australia.
Bunce, C.M., Cruden, D.M. and Morgenstern, N.R. (1997) Assessment of the hazard from rock fall on a highway,
Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 34, pp. 344–356.
Heal, D., Potvin, Y. and Hudyma, M.R. (2006) Evaluating Rockburst Damage Potential in Underground Mines, Golden
Rocks 2006, The 41st U.S. Symposium on Rock Mechanics (USRMS), 50 Years of Rock Mechanics -
Landmarks and Future Challenges, Golden, Colorado, June 17–21, 2006, American Rock Mechanics
Association, CD format only.
Minerals Council of Australia (2007) Safety Performance Report of the Australian Minerals Industry 2006–2007,
viewed 20 February 2009,
MOSHAB (1997) Prevention of Mining Fatalities Taskforce 1997, Report on the Inquiry into Fatalities in the Western
Australian Mining Industry, Western Australian Mines Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board,
December 1997, Perth, Australia.
Owen, M.L. (2004) Exposure Model — Detailed Profiling and Quantification of the Exposure of Personnel to
Geotechnical Hazards in Underground Mines, PhD Thesis, University of Western Australia, 309 p.
Potvin, Y., Nedin, P., Sandy, M. and Rosengren, K. (2001) Towards the Elimination of Rockfall Fatalities in Australian
Mines, MERIWA Report No. 223, Project No. M341, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, ACG:1009-01,
Perth, Australia, December 2001, 54 p.