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Incident | Workers ejected from work box

worker being ejected from workbox

The NSW Resources Regulator has reported an incident in an underground metal mine. The incident occurred when a workbox detached from an integrated tool carrier and fell approximately two metres. It hit the ground and rolled 90 degrees onto its side, partially ejecting two mineworkers who had been inside the workbox.

The Regulator stated, “mine operators must ensure that locking pins are in place on the mobile plant used for work boxes. The locking pins should be used to give a positive/secure attachment. Mineworkers involved in the task must verify that all locking pins are correctly engaged prior to use.”

The Regulator recommends that mine operators should review their safety management systems, particularly focusing on ensuring that:

  • workbox attachment systems are fit-for-purpose with machine attachment systems
  • change management arrangements for the modification and maintenance of workbox attachment systems are to be assessed in consultation with relevant equipment manufacturers or engineering specialists
  • for any modified plant, mines should conduct thorough assessments to ensure compatibility with existing site equipment and attachments
  • operational switches in mobile equipment are of an appropriate type, positioned and labelled appropriately to prevent inadvertent operation and consider additional barriers or protection of the locking pin release switch
  • information, instruction and training are provided to and implemented by workers for the safe use of workboxes.

Two engineering maintenance workers were tasked with installing a cable at the roof level using a loader and workbox in an underground metalliferous mine. The machine they were using was a wheel loader that had been converted to an integrated tool carrier.

The workbox attachment assembly was not fully compatible with the attachment assembly on the loader. When the locking pins were disengaged, the attachment was able to swing, disengaging from the attachment hook.

The hydraulic isolation valve was not engaged to stop the locking pin (that was holding the workbox) from disengaging during operation.

The loader operator selected the workbox locking pin release switch. The locking pin disengaged causing the workbox to detach from the loader and fall to the ground.

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AMSJ April 2022