March 19, 2018 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Monday Accidents & Lessons Learned: When Exposure to Contaminants Is Part of a Job

Recently, a review by Australia’s Department of Mining, Industry, Regulation, and Safety (DMIRS) revealed that workers in some gold rooms have experienced sustained exposure to elevated heavy metal levels, including arsenic, lead, and mercury. Work done in a gold room is specifically identified as occupational exposure work that requires ongoing health surveillance for gold room employees.

Among the biological monitoring results were omissions within the biological and atmospheric monitoring program of some heavy metal contaminants associated with ore mineralization; lack of consideration on the part of sites for the mineralogy of their specific ore deposits that contribute to assessment of heavy metal often present in Western Australia gold deposits; inadequate, ineffective ventilation systems within gold rooms; and a deficiency of ventilation system performance testing and monitoring. Along with these inconsistencies, when equipment is modified or installed in gold rooms, maintenance programs fall short of manufacturer’s recommendations.

Read the Mines Safety Bulletin, Minimizing exposure to hazardous contaminants in gold rooms. Then, learn why professional training in effective investigations and competency in root cause analysis are key to solving workplace problems.

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