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Collapse damages mine equipment, injures worker

Raw water tank failure
Raw water tank failure

A mining operation reported a structural failure that battered machinery and hurt one employee.

A raw water tank recently failed at a Queensland coal mine, releasing large volumes of water across the unidentified work site.

“A structural failure of a large capacity water tank caused a significant release of water and collapse of the tank structure, resulting in injuries to a worker and damage to surrounding equipment,” Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) said in its mineral mines and quarries inspectorate bulletin.

Investigators identified several contributing factors, including management’s so-called lack of competence in identifying “loss of structural integrity” as a hazard. They also allegedly failed to implement effective control measures.

RSHQ urged site senior executives to identify structural failures as on-site hazards and implement effective controls to protect coworkers.

“Site senior executives should develop a structural integrity management plan in consultation with a suitably qualified person (such as a structural engineer) that includes requirements for periodic inspections, audits, testing and reporting on the condition and risk of structures on-site,” the statutory body said.

“Sites with structures must ensure they have identified the failure of those structures as a hazard. Controls should be based on the likelihood and potential consequences of damage to mechanisms and failure modes of the structures on-site.”

Potential damage to mechanisms includes:

  • damage and overload from maintenance sources such as landing of heavy items for shutdown maintenance, placing mobile equipment on structures, removal of sections and members
  • damage and overload from operational sources such as spillage, used in a way other than originally intended
  • corrosion from environmental or chemical sources, particularly in underground mines
  • wear and loss of section from operational sources such as flow of material or fluids
  • improper design, construction, installation, modification and repair of structures
  • vibration from environmental or operational sources
  • rot and pest damage such as termites or rodents
  • interaction with mobile and other plant
  • adverse weather effects
  • subsidence or erosion
  • fire and heat
  • fatigue.

Since 2011 RSHQ recorded 129 structure failure reports across the mineral mines and quarries sector, with 19 occurring between 2021 and 2021. These failures caused uncontrolled movements and falling objects, people and structures with potential to cause serious harm.

The inspectorate also issued 17 compliance actions to control hazards associated with structural failures across the Sunshine State between 2021 and 2022.

Click here to read the full bulletin.

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AMSJ April 2022