Hand, fingers and wrist injuries on the rise in NSW resources sector

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 21 May, 2021 - 12:45
Industry news
New South Wales

Hand, fingers or wrist injuries make up one-third of all notified injuries in the NSW’s resources sector and are often double that of any other bodily location, according to a review by the state’s resources regulator.

It found that while a substantial proportion (45 per cent) of injuries to hand, fingers or wrist occurred in the underground coal sector, notable increases in injuries to head or neck and upper limbs were also observed.

Almost 80 per cent of all serious injuries notified involved being hit by moving objects or falls, trips and slips of a person, with increases seen in injuries to the head or neck (with a mechanism of being hit by moving objects or hitting objects with a part of the body) and upper limbs (with a mechanism of being hit by moving objects or falls, trips and slips).

The report also said an increase was observed in serious injuries to hand, fingers or wrist in contractors while similar injuries to employees have decreased.

The NSW Resources Regulator recently reviewed the reporting of serious injuries and illnesses by mine operators for the three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

The review found that while a significant long-term downward trend in the serious injury frequency rate (SIFR) (per million hours worked) has been reported by industry since 2006, serious injuries were up from 78 in 2017-18 to 94 in 2018-19 and to 106 in 2019-20.

Overall increased serious injury incident notifications were made by the underground coal, surface coal, underground metalliferous and extractives sectors.

The overall steady downward rate-based trend in lost time injuries (LTIFR) and total recordable injuries (TRIFR) observed since about 2013-14 suggests safety performance in NSW mining has shown general improvement.

“Multiple factors contribute to incident and injury notifications,” the resources regulator said in its review.

“These include (but are not limited to) inherent risk factors specific to sector, operation type and mine, and various other internal and external factors.”