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Risk Controls Knowledge: Determining Leading Practice From Case Study Analysis

Open Cut » Health and Safety

Published: February 17Project Number: C25036

Get ReportAuthor: Maureen Hassall, Jill Harris | The University of Queensland

Increasingly the Australian mining industry is being encouraged to manage operational risks which have the potential to cause fatal or catastrophic events using critical control management (CCM) approaches. This next phase in workplace health and safety risk management follows the journey already taken by other risk-laden industries such as aviation and oil and gas.


The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has recently developed a CCM framework, which has been described in its most recent best practice guidelines and which was significantly influenced by the outcomes of the ACARP funded project "Selection and Optimization of Risk Controls" (C23007). The majority of ICMM member companies are now in the process of assessing the guidance with a view to how best to embed it into their health and safety management systems. Another ACARP project - "Effective and Efficient Implementation of Critical Control Management (CCM) in the Australian coal mining industry by 2020" (C24006) confirmed this finding amongst Australian coal mining companies. Of the 12 ACARP member companies surveyed, 11 reported an intention to fully implement it - and the other was considering it. Four were already rolling it out and the remaining companies were in the early stages of its implementation.


The ICMM's framework has the potential to cause considerable disruption to current risk management practice due to its focus on controls, critical controls and control effectiveness. It advocates a new understanding of a control (risk treatment) which is "an object and/or human action that of itself would prevent or mitigate an unwanted event sequence and should therefore be specifiable, measurable and auditable. This in turn requires the implementation, verification and reporting of control effectiveness.


This report presents the results of the Risk Controls Knowledge: Determining leading practice from case study analysis (C25036) ACARP project which aimed to provide a way forward for the industry in its acceptance and uptake of the CCM approach. Corroborating evidence from benchmark leading practice; industry experts and stakeholders; and incident analyses was used to inform two methods that resulted in the development of two CCM bowties. A company-focused method was used to develop a vehicle interaction bowtie for open cut coal mines and a RISKGATE-focused method to develop an underground strata bowtie. A business case study then determined the feasibility of transferring the elements of the bowties into a commercially viable CCM information sharing system that delivers significant benefit in helping the industry address fatality risks.


The outcomes and lessons learned from the current studies are reported in a user reference tool aimed at guiding company's uptake of the CCM framework and bowties. It is a step-by-step guide that has been tested in industry workshops representing more than 120 days of mining health and safety and technical experts' time. It also offers flexibility in that users can decide upon a method that best suits their company and available resources. It pulls together a compilation of CCM resources from disparate sources as well as those that have emerged or been refined as a result of the current studies. The vehicle interaction and underground strata bowties are given and explained, and can be used by readers to inform the development of their own bowties for these hazards as well as control adequacy, effectiveness, and dependency information and critical control performance, verification and reporting information.


The user guide includes the following sections:

Section 1: Standardised CCM risk management terminology

Section 2: A process for developing risk control; plus risk control management materials

Section 3: Case study one - Example of risk control reference information for driven vehicles in open cut mines

Section 4: Case study two - Example of strata risk control reference information for underground coal mines

Section 5: Discussion and conclusion

Section 6: Attachments, Attachment A: Control sorting exercise


Overall, the current project has confirmed the industry's appetite for CCM information, as evidenced by the number of companies contributing information and the number of people who volunteered their time and gave their input in the workshops. It is recommended that the industry continue to support further CCM case study developments. Evident also was that Australian coal mining companies are at various stages of the CCM implementation journey and in tailoring the process to their organisations they have developed a variety of terms, forms, ways to represent information, communication programs and reports. Most companies are still progressing or refining their implementation. This meant that drawing together an industry reference for some parts of the CCM process (e.g. collating verification questions and the incident review process) proved challenging for these case studies. The variability across companies also posed a challenge in developing industry level reference case studies. However, these challenges can be overcome if the case studies are reviewed and updated to stay aligned with leading industry practice.


The present study also found evidence to support an industry-wide information sharing system - built on the ideals of RISKGATE, with a focus on controls. Other risk-laden industries have similar systems that have driven significant improvements in performance. The current study also recommends that the sharing system include reference information on control performance specification information, control support activities, and verification questions and analysis processes. Although some have supported the idea of a critical control focused sharing system, results from the present project indicate that it would be better to focus on controls more generally, as there is not an industry agreed standard for selecting critical controls at present.


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