Developing emergency response plans

On 31 March 2022, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws replaced the health and safety elements of the Mines Safety and Inspection laws. For information visit

All health and safety notifications, forms and guidance for mining and petroleum has moved to the WorkSafe website

What should be considered in an emergency response plan?

Basic information

The principal employer and manager of the mine are required to prepare an emergency response plan for dealing with emergencies at the mining operation, including firefighting and the deployment and use of mines rescue teams.

In developing an emergency response plan for the operation, the following basic information should be included:

  • details of operation
  • details of operating company and responsible persons
  • the type of operation
  • assignment of emergency response duties
  • the number of workers, and range of training and competencies
  • geography of the surrounding area, remoteness, and available equipment.

Emergency response plans should also:

  • identify the hazards that might cause an emergency
  • assess the risk of an emergency
  • include means for dealing with such emergencies.

Identifying worst case scenarios

To assist with the development of emergency response plans, workers should be involved in the identification and analysis of worst case scenarios to ensure:

  • engagement and commitment to managing risk
  • allocation of appropriate resources and promotion of risk-reduction activities
  • increased understanding of risks associated with mining operations
  • improved decision making about risks
  • informed emergency response planning
  • improved safety performance focusing on prevention rather than response.

Other considerations

Other matters to consider when developing emergency response plans include:

  • duties of the person responsible for implementing the emergency response plan
  • duties of site personnel during an emergency
  • communication systems and equipment, including for maintaining contact with external agencies
  • preparation and layout of site, and location of all relevant emergency response facilities and equipment, including the crisis and control centre
  • clear written instructions including maps, photographs and GPS position for use by internal and external emergency services
  • how site personnel will access the necessary information.

Emergency response plans should be regularly tested to ensure their effectiveness. Emergency and evacuation drills with onsite personnel can be used to evaluate how workers respond.

Who else should be consulted?

Emergency services may need to be consulted in the matters relating to emergency preparedness and communication. This is in addition to the workforce and local community.

Consider communicating and consulting with:

  • Royal Flying Doctor service
  • local and regional hospitals
  • police, fire and emergency services
  • industry safety regulators
  • local shires
  • occupants of neighbouring land.

Mining operations should tailor their contacts according to their specific situation.

Use the National Health Services Directory (NHSD) to locate health services in your region.

Use of trigger action response plans (TARPs)

Trigger action response plans (TARPs) can be a useful tool in some circumstances for mining operations. A TARP defines the minimum set of actions required by workers in response to a deviation from normal working conditions.

TARPs can be used to demonstrate the relationship between conditions in:

  • a normal environment
  • an abnormal environment (e.g. equipment malfunctioning or overheating)
  • an emergency situation.

They define the required actions relevant to each situation.

TARPs should:

  • be simple and robust
  • be adequately resourced in terms of personnel and equipment, including monitoring systems
  • focus on prevention and control through early detection
  • set triggers through detailed knowledge of what is normal
  • be regularly reviewed and revised as necessary
  • be based on the best available on-site and off-site advice.

Related information

A high impact function audit has been prepared to assist in emergency planning.

Frequently asked questions on self-auditing of mining activities - information sheet - 942 Kb

This information sheet outlines the frequently asked questions on self-auditing of mining activities.

SafeWork Australia has produced Emergency plans and procedures that may be useful.