What are the duties of a ventilation officer?

Background

What is the role of a ventilation officer?

Ventilation officers are of critical importance to the occupational health and safety of workers. The atmosphere that is breathed in can be reduced to sub-standard or dangerous conditions if contaminants produced in the course of operations are not controlled, safely extracted or diluted to harmless levels.

There is the requirement for mining operations to have a ventilation log book. Find out more in What log or record books may be required?

Can there be more than one ventilation officer?

Yes, the manager of a mine may appoint different ventilation officers for particular parts of the mine. The manager must inform the district inspector of the appointment of each ventilation officer.

Exemption from appointing a ventilation officer

An application may be made to the district inspector for an exemption if the registered manager considers the scale, scope and nature of the mining operations do not warrant the appointment of a ventilation officer.

Duties of an underground ventilation officer

  • Regularly inspect and test workplaces to ensure:
    • adequate ventilation flows
    • atmospheric contaminants are as low as can be reasonably achieved
  • At intervals not exceeding 3 months (and after any substantial change):
    • determine and record the quantity and quality of ventilating air in the mine using correct procedures, instruments and equipment
    • record primary fan pressure and volume
    • update mine ventilation plans, which need to be immediately available to emergency response
  • Operate, calibrate and maintain instrumentation
  • Conduct, record and report any atmospheric contaminant sampling requested by an inspector
  • Record the wet and dry bulb temperatures of all workplaces where conditions could adversely affect the safety and health of persons
  • Select and position auxiliary fans, regulators and other controls, ensuring the required volumes of air are provided in workplaces
  • Report promptly to the manager any defect or deficiency in the ventilation at the mine or any atmospheric contaminant level in a workplace that exceeds the exposure standard
  • Enter, date and sign records in the ventilation log book
  • Provide guidance to any technician employed to assist.

Duties of a surface ventilation officer

  • Regularly inspect and test workplaces to ensure:
    • adequate ventilation flows
    • atmospheric contaminants are as low as can be reasonably achieved
  • Conduct, record and report any atmospheric contaminant sampling requested by an inspector
  • Examine and report on the means and effectiveness of dust suppression or dust collection devices on the mine
  • Operate, calibrate and maintain instrumentation
  • Report promptly to the manager any defect or deficiency in the ventilation at the mine or any atmospheric contaminant level in a workplace that exceeds the exposure standard
  • Enter, date and sign records in the ventilation log book.

Refer to regulation 9.6 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995

What else does a ventilation officer do?

The ventilation officer is responsible for developing, reviewing and maintaining the risk-based hygiene management plan. The ventilation officer typically helps prepare the plan by identifying the atmospheric contaminants present in workplaces and how they can be controlled.

Apart from defining and detailing the roles and responsibilities of the ventilation officer, the Risk-based hygiene management planning and CONTAM system procedures (below) show how to conduct a health and hygiene risk assessment, develop the management plan, propose a sampling quota and report sampling results.

Risk-based hygiene management planning and CONTAM system - procedure - 1012 Kb

This procedure defines and details roles and responsibilities, how to conduct a health and hygeine risk assessment, how to prepare a sampling quota and how to report sampling results.

Further information: Where a site is exempted from appointing a ventilation officer, or where the ventilation officer has insufficient experience or knowledge to develop and maintain a risk-based hygiene management plan, an external qualified hygiene contractor or consultant may be used.

Records and log book

The records to be entered in the ventilation log book are addressed in the duties of ventilation officers.

Related information

Below is the list of documents and links that you may find useful.

Safework Australia has a draft code of practice on ventilation of underground mines.

Ventilation issues in mining - diesel exhaust emissions (2007) - 1276 Kb

This toolbox presentation outlines ventilation issues in mining such as the effects of diesel particulates and various control methods used to help lower diesel exhaust emissions.

Underground ventilation (metalliferrous mines) - guideline - 199 Kb

Underground ventilation (metalliferrous mines) - guideline: This guideline is issued to assist in the understanding of underground ventilation in metalliferrous mines and provide guidance on essential design aspects and operating practice.

Underground ventilation management – audit guide - 237 Kb

This audit guideline provides information on the guide to underground ventilation management HIF audit.

Surface atmospheric contaminant management - audit guide - 327 Kb

This audit guideline provides information on the surface atmospheric contaminant management audit.