Mustering Plan 101: the importance of a safe and prepared workplace

With the goal of zero-harm in the workplace, the natural resources industries have evolved and improved tremendously over time. Nowadays, a well-prepared mustering plan has become an essential element of it all. Better engineering, new technologies, stronger training and safety policies have driven the growth of these industries globally. 

Constant improvement to achieve a zero-harm workplace is the ultimate goal. The mining industry employs 1% of the global workforce all around the world, but is responsible for 8% of fatal accidents globally – nearly 12,000 deaths per year occur on mine sites. For example, spillages in tailing dams, workers being trapped underground, leaks of toxic gases such as methane and carbon monoxide are all possible threats to the mining workforce. Thankfully, this essential industry is continuously evolving to keep its workforce safe. 

To design a safer workplace, companies are charged with overseeing and preparing a mustering plan. A mustering plan is a thorough plan that indicates how to act effectively to protect people in case of an emergency. 

Why your organization needs a mustering plan 

The mustering plan has an important impact on the effectiveness of an emergency response. Certainly, a well-prepared plan can make the difference whether an employee’s life is lost or saved.  

Dealing with emergencies in remote locations brings a whole set of challenges. Limited and difficult access and evacuation routes, longer travel time, more complex threats and complications, confined spaces, elevated platforms, limited resources are all factors that increase the complexity of emergency planning and response. 

A well-designed mustering plan will allow each member of the workforce to know what to do in various emergency situations and will help prevent complications and errors. Knowing that there is a robust plan in place gives workers confidence that the company has their interests at heart. 

How do you prepare a mustering plan? 

 This exercice can be fairly complex, but as a starting point, preparing a mustering plan can be done following a five-step method: 

1. The company’s experts need to analyze all potential incidents that might occur and create a register with a hypothesis on the occurrence of each type of risk or incident. 

2. The company’s experts must determine the consequences of each risk, rank them in order of “most probable” and “most impactful” and address the highest ranks first. 

3. Plan and estimate the response needed for each risk. Many elements must be taken into account and it is a rigorous step that takes time. Budgeting the safety equipment, planning the appropriate emergency response, and creating a consistent and reliable plan that considers everything at stake as well as contingency plans (“Plan B”). 

4. Establish the plan and resources needed. Contact the nearest emergency responders to let them know about your project, your site’s needs in terms of safety and inquire about their capabilities. Consequently, when the mustering plan is approved, the workforce and all managers must be informed and trained. The mustering plan / necessary equipment must be continuously updated and integrated in the basic training of the workforce. 

5. Communicate the plan, conduct training and test regularly.  The mustering plan must be adequately communicated as part of the orientation and initial training of all workers going to a site.  There is an extra level of training required for Emergency Responders to ensure they are equipped to execute the plan as needed.  Furthermore, it is vital that the plan be tested initially, but also periodically with mustering drills. 

An accurate and efficient mustering plan will decrease emergency response time, will decrease human error due to stressful situations and will provide to emergency responders with accurate information. 

 

How does digital technology partake in making mine sites safer? 

Digital technology has proven itself as being a great ally for the natural resources industry; from cloud solutions helping with logistics to digitalization and automation improving efficiency and creating more sustainable processes. 

It is estimated that 44% of mining companies foresee the need of implementing digital technology to improve the health and safety of the workforce. From adding sensors to equipment that will monitor and communicate real time data to automating the most dangerous of processes to remove most risks; innovative technologies allow managers to know with a single click of a button where each member of the crew is and who is on the mine site at the time of the incident. Digital technology allows for the most up-to-date mobilization of the workforce in case of emergencies. 

The Nomadis Mustering feature allows managers to quickly have an updated list of the entire workforce on-site, in transit or at home, allowing for a faster and effective emergency response.  This also includes details on their precise location, team, work schedule, work shift, and all information required to help locate people in an emergency situation. 

While hazards on industrial sites will continue to exist, innovating mustering plans will allow to decrease deadly accidents, prevent the biggest threats and will transform industrial sites into safer workplaces. With proper policies, procedures and the help of technology, the industry may even aim at reaching a zero-harm workplace.