Miners warned to limit smartphones in the pit

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Miners warned to limit smartphones in the pit

String of incidents prompt official bulletin.

Queensland's mine operators have been urged to limit the use or capability of mobile phones used onsite after several incidents involving heavy vehicles and mobile plant.

Queensland's Mines Inspectorate issued a safety bulletin (pdf) to all mines in the state this week, noting that it was "aware of mine workers using mobile devices (including mobile phones, tablets or other social media devices" while operating" machinery.

Chief inspector of coal mines, Gavin Taylor, told Gladstone's The Observer that it was believed the use of Apple iDevices and social media at open-cut coal mines in the state was "widespread".

The Inspectorate issued the bulletin after "several high potential incident investigations".

It sought the cooperation of mining firms to remind workers of the potential dangers of using mobile devices while driving or operating machinery.

It also recommended that "known risk factors" be incorporated into "site risk assessments, hazard management and control elements".

Though much of the bulletin was derived from background information provided by World Health Organisation reports, it did contain some specific advice for mine operators.

"As there are some situations when mine workers may need access to mobile phones while on site, other risk management approaches will be required," the bulletin noted.

"This could include evaluating the possibility of limiting access to mobile devices or phones with internet access, limiting access to mobile phones except in emergencies, [or] limiting mobile phone use to only hands-free devices and only when parked in a safe location".

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