INDUSTRY REMINDER – Boilermaker dies in gantry collapse
Shutdowns across the mining industry attribute to a range of safety related incidents. Unfortunately, sometimes these incidents result in tragic circumstances including loss of life. The very nature of shutdowns generally require a significant range of maintenance/engineering tasks to be performed in short time frames and, often by contract workers who are unfamiliar with the existing site safety conditions and the pre-existing hazards. Demolition activities are no doubt some of the most hazardous.
Back in 2016, a boilermaker was working inside a thickener tank during a site shutdown. He died when the gantry above him failed and collapsed, crushing and pinning him against a concrete floor. The worker had been tasked with removing the thickener’s rake shaft in the centre of the tank.
As he stood on the tank floor, cutting into the rake shaft, the gantry failed and collapsed
The rake shaft was no longer in use and the rake arms had previously been removed. The rake shaft passed through the feedwell above, and was attached to the motor on the self-supporting gantry bridge that spanned the tank. The feedwell was attached to the underside of the gantry.
As he stood on the tank floor, cutting into the rake shaft, the gantry failed and collapsed, pinning him to the floor. Another worker in the tank who was assisting the boilermaker raised the alarm. Despite the efforts of the emergency services, the boilermaker dies from his injuries.
Direct causes: The gantry bridge had deteriorated substantially due to corrosion and was no longer self-supporting. The rake shaft, which was now providing primary support, failed while being cut.
Contributory causes: The structural integrity of the tank had not been assessed by a competent person prior to work being carried out. The boilermaker was instructed to remove the rake shaft, which was not designed to provide primary support.
Source: DMIRS Incident Report 244
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