OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 36 Mining

Section 697 Voice communication

An effective and reliable communication system is perhaps the most important instrument in maintaining safety and responding to emergencies. Worker confidence is also affected by the availability and quality of the communication system. Although a wide variety of sophisticated systems are available, the focus of this section is the minimum requirements that ensure safety.

Subsection 697(1)

An effective voice communication system is essential in an underground coal mine, both for mine efficiency and mine safety. The employer must ensure that an interconnected communication system is installed throughout the mine. Communication stations must be close to key production and high activity areas so that workers can call for assistance or rescue and pass on working instructions when required.

The use of “leaky feeder” systems throughout the underground coal mine makes the use of hand-held two-way radios an effective supplement to telephone systems. Despite this, hard-wiring of telephone stations is the expectation here.

Subsection 697(2)

Exploratory drivages up to 60 metres in length have been exempted because visual and voice communications are adequate in these smaller areas.

Subsection 697(3)

Because of the critical contribution that an electric communication system can make to worker safety, the employer must ensure that the system has a backup power supply. The backup power supply must be separate from the main power supply system and must remain operable if the main power system fails.

The focus here is on a secondary source of power such as an auxiliary generator.