The NSW Resources Regulator has raised concerns with metalliferous mines over the number and frequency of mining vehicle-related collisions at sites. In an attempt to draw attention to the issue, it has provided the industry with a range of potentially high impact incidents that have occurred at metalliferous sites in recent times.
The NSW Resources Regulator says it has “observed a rise in the reported number of incidents occurring at underground metalliferous mines involving vehicles”
It says that the occupants of the vehicles have been placed at risk of serious injury. The incidents occurred in a range of different circumstances.
Incident 1: Collision with underground haul truck
A collision occurred between a light vehicle and an underground haul truck. As the haul truck was leaving a stockpile, the tray hit a wall. The operator reversed the haul truck to move away from the wall. A supervisor driving a light vehicle saw the haul truck and assumed the haul truck driver was reversing to allow the light vehicle to pass. The light vehicle was on the blind side of the haul truck. As the light vehicle started passing the truck, the truck moved and hit the passenger side of the light vehicle. The light vehicle operator called the haul truck on the radio to stop him. There was no radio communication between the truck and light vehicle before the collision. The passenger side window was shattered, and passenger side panels were pushed in and torn. No workers were injured.
Incident 2: Light vehicle hits wall in decline
A contractor’s light vehicle hit a decline wall. The vehicle had been serviced earlier that day by a third party contractor. As the vehicle was descending the decline, the driver applied the brakes. The vehicle then turned hard into the wall with enough force to deploy the airbags. A steering failure was identified during the post-incident inspection. The driver and passenger were not injured.
Incident 3: Underground collision | Haul truck hits rigid truck
A haul truck was descending a decline. A stores truck had reversed to give way to another truck and started climbing the decline. As the haul truck started to travel around a blind corner, the rigid truck exited the corner. The haul truck hit the rigid truck and pushed it two metres into the decline wall.
Incident 4: Hit wall during decline descent
A light vehicle was descending a decline and hit the wall. The vehicle was severely damaged. The driver and passenger escaped injury. The driver then drove the vehicle to a nearby cutting and parked up. An investigation identified that wet road conditions and excessive speed contributed to the collision. A faulty speed limiter and faulty speedometer were identified during the investigation.
Investigation contributing factors identified across the incidents include:
- One of the mines had failed to adequately implement positive communication requirements to control the risk of the collision.
- Positive communications requirements were not followed because of high radio traffic.
- Poor quality of maintenance activities affected safety critical systems.
- Operators failed to drive to conditions.
- Defects were identified and not communicated to other vehicle operators.
- Defects were identified, were not repaired and the vehicle remained in service.
Recommendations for mines
The NSW Resources Regulator recommended that all mine operators should:
1. Review the effectiveness of their positive communication systems. Operators should review SB18- 06 Lack of Positive communication.
2. Apply the hierarchy of controls to vehicle interactions. This includes assessing collision avoidance systems, block lighting systems and positive communications requirements.
3. Review road watering practices to avoid creating hazards. This should include road material, operator and water cart training and the use of dust suppressants.
4. Review light vehicle standards, maintenance requirements and vehicle inspections. This should include reviewing the relevant sections of MDG 15 Guideline for mobile and transportable plant for use at mines 2017.
5. Communicate the requirements of the transport management plan to all workers operating mobile plant at the mine.
The on-going number of incidents has resulted in the regulator to ask for an additional call for safety.
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