The Pre-Start Meeting – What to Expect
Pre-starts are an essential industry tool developed to help workers get focused and give all employees a chance to find out what is going on around site. They are particularly useful for keeping track of the rapidly changing nature of on-site work, especially during the construction phase but also during ongoing operations. This allows workers and supervisors to
- Identify clashing timetables for scheduled work or training
- Monitor and communicate potential site hazards and safety issues
- Track the progress of production or construction
- Seek information about future in-house employment opportunities
What exactly is a Pre-Start Meeting?
Virtually all mine site jobs will require you to take part in a pre-start meeting at the start of every shift. Typically your pre-start meeting will be conducted at an agreed meeting place on the job-site. This could be outside a particular lunchroom or next to a storage container in which your tools are kept. It could also be in a work area or next to a piece of machinery. It will probably change from time-to-time as the job evolves, especially during construction. The meeting includes all members of your work crew, ranging in size from as few as 2-3 staff to as many as 25-30. The meeting will be led by your leading hand or supervisor.
Pre-start Meeting– Why is it important?
Mining companies go to great lengths to ensure their workers are kept up to date with the latest and most relevant safety, productivity and training information. The pre-start meeting plays an essential role in this. It acts not only as a forum for the planning of daily site activities, but also as an industry wide news service providing workers with important industry and site information. This includes but is not limited to information about:
Health and Safety are a major focus across all sectors of the mining industry. It is no surprise much of the morning pre-start discussion focuses on safety issues. This generally includes a reading of all reported on-site incidents (minor or major) from the day before. The meeting will also cover a daily safety focus sheet which highlights a particular type of site hazard and addresses the associated risks and control techniques.
- Serious Industry Safety Incidents
As well as addressing site-specific safety issues, the pre-start meeting often includes discussion about serious incidents which have occurred on other sites across the country or around the globe. These are usually brought up when there is major incident involving the potential for serious injury or death. It is important to discuss such issues on a regular basis as this can go a long way help to prevent their recurrence.
- Site Isolations and Lock-outs
Isolations and lock-outs are an essential part of the site safety system, but are also one of the major causes of work-scheduling clashes on-site. For this reason, it is extremely important all workers are given accurate and up-to-date information about site accessibility issues on a daily basis. This allows workers to bring to the attention of their supervisors and project managers any potential clashes, which can then be resolved through prioritization and negotiation.
Training is an ongoing process in the mining industry, especially during the construction phase as parts of the plant become live and new hazards arise. Something as simple as the introduction of a new chemical to site could require a new round of safety training. The pre-start meeting is used as a tool to alert workers to these new training requirements and keep track of who has and has not completed it.
- Drug and Alcohol Screening
While drug and alcohol screening routines are different on every site, the pre-start meeting is often one of the times at which random drug and alcohol testing is regularly conducted. This is because it is one of the only times the whole workforce is gathered in groups which are easy to manage. Be warned, random drug and alcohol testing can also be conducted any time you are onsite, and will definitely be conducted as a part of your Pre-Employment Medical.
- Production & Progress Information
Production statistics and progress reports are often important features of the pre-start meeting. Particularly during the construction phase, this information can provide a guide as to the amount of time until a job is completed.
Not only is the pre-start meeting important for official and technical information, it is also a time for workers to make contacts and discuss important personal and industrial issues.
The Pre-start Meeting – Your Contribution
While having a pre-start meeting every morning might sound boring and repetitive - which it no doubt can be - it is also an important opportunity for you to convey information, opinions and observations to your supervisors and fellow workers. So what kind of things might you want to bring up? Here are just a few examples:
- Hazards you have noticed.
- Productivity issues and questions.
- Holidays you have booked.
- Changing shifts or crews.
- Future employment concerns.
- Jokes and general discussion.
It is important to remember the pre-start meeting is a time to receive information and be told what to do
, but also a time to raise issues and get concerns off your chest
. Its aim is to get the shift off to a good start so a little light-hearted joking and casual discussion is actively encouraged, providing it doesn’t distract from important issues.
For more important information about what it’s like to work on-site in the mining industry, check out our Mining Lifestyle Guide