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Earlier this month, ISO announced the publication of ISO 19434, a new international standard that aims to reduce mining accidents. According to ISO, a key step in preventing mining accidents is to classify them by type and cause, which is what ISO 19434 is designed to do.

Developed by the ISO technical committee on mining, ISO 19434 represents a new direction because ISO mining standards mostly looked at safety features for machinery until now. ISO 19434 looks at accidents themselves, giving each accident a code that indicates its causes and consequences, ISO says.

The unified classification system in ISO 19434 allows operators to identify whether mining accidents have occurred due to human error or other causes. According to Seyed Reza Hosseini, Convenor of the working group on classification of mine accidents, the system gives a shared understanding on key issues, by defining the main types of accidents and providing information about the nature of any injuries that have occurred, defining their location and to what degree personnel are affected.

According to ISO, the publication of ISO 19434 addresses a long-standing need for a comprehensive classification system of mining accidents that could present a standard scheme for all factors associated with accidents. This will enable full analysis of all mining accidents. By presenting a common understandable language for communication between all parts involved, the hope is that working conditions can continue to improve across all operations in the mining sector, ISO says.

What does the classification scheme look like?

The classification scheme of ISO 19434 is composed of the following three elements, each defined by different categories, with a 3-digit code for each category:

  • Origin or cause
  • Type of accident
  • Consequences (on people, not equipment or machinery)

Here are the high level categories of origin or cause:

  • Chemical-based accidents
  • Electrical-based accidents
  • Environmental-based accidents
  • Geo-chemical-based accidents
  • Geo-mechanical-based accidents
  • Equipment-based accidents
  • Mechanical-based accidents
  • Human errors-based accidents

Here are the high level categories of type of accident:

  • Contact with objects and equipment
  • Falls
  • Bodily reaction and exertion
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments
  • Fires and explosions

Here are the high level categories of consequences:

  • Death
  • Disability
  • Injury

Most of the high level categories include sub-categories as well. For example, for the consequence “Injury” (last bullet), sub-categories include fractures, dislocations, sprains and strains, concussions, amputations, burns, acute poisoning, asphyxia, and others.

The 3-digit codes for the categories of origin/cause, type and consequences combine, along with 6 other digits, to allocate a unique 15-digit code to each type of mine accident. This code can then be used in statistical analysis. Similarly, the allocated code would clearly show to which categories of origin/cause, type of accident and consequences the mine accident belongs to.

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