The Queensland Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy has recently hi-lighted the risks to operators from lightning strikes to rubber tyred vehicles. The Department have sought to debunk the myth that during lightning storms, heavy, rubber-tyred vehicles can be considered a place of safety.
The two incidents above indicate the risks to operators in heavy, rubber-tyred vehicles from pyrolysis due to lightning strikes. Whenever excess heat is developed in or applied to a tyre, it can initiate pyrolysis, (the decomposition of a substance by heat), within the tyre. This can cause a build-up of flammable gases and pressure within the tyre, which may rupture or explode. Further information can be found in Safety Bulletin 47 (Tyre fires, pyrolysis and explosions) available on the DNRME website.
DNRME recommendations to mines on lightning strikes and rubber tyred vehicles
- Mines should review their severe weather or lightning TARPS to take into account the risk to coal mine workers operating heavy rubber tyred vehicles during lightning storms.
- Clearly, a heavy rubber tyred vehicle cannot be considered as a place of safety during a lightning storm, and care must be taken where these vehicles are parked during a lightning storm so as not to create a hazard for buildings or structures.
- Mines Inspectors will be auditing mines’ severe weather and lightning procedures and TARPS during routine inspections.
Read more on reported lightning strikes and related incidents at Australasian Mine Safety Journal
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