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Walkway in prep plant not structurally sound | Check integrity of structures

structural integrity of structures need to be maintained
A recent incident has highlighted risks on mine sites of structural failures

In a recent incident at prep plant has highlighted the need for vigilance around maintenance/inspections of structures and ensuring the integrity of structures. According to regulators reports, an operator was walking along a designated gantry in a coal preparation plant when a piece of the walkway gave way and his foot went through it.

While no injury was reported in this incident, the maintenance of the integrity of structures has had previously contributed to the death of mine workers and maintainers. Six months ago AMSJ reported a 2016 incident where a worker died after a structure collapsed during shut down maintenance.

There’s often complacence around structural integrity on-sites due to ‘perceptions’ that structures don’t fail and that ‘someone else is looking after it.’ A planned systematic approach to the maintenance of on-site structures should form part of an effective safety and health management system at mine sites or preparation sites.

Regulators warn that mine operators should ensure that structural integrity audits, repair work must be prioritised and continually reviewed to ensure effective implementation. Where are structure is deteriorating at a greater rate than expected, then these need to be reviewed as a priority.

Where a significant plant structural failure occurs, the potential exists for:

  • Loss of Life;
  • Loss of Production;
  • Loss of Reputation/Social License to operate;
  • Environmental Impact; and/or
  • Associated significant financial losses, both in immediate terms and sometimes at even greater levels through consequential loss long into the future.

A range of Australian and International standards exist to ensure effective structural integrity is maintained. These include:

  • AS 3600:2009 Concrete Structure (currently under review in Second Draft AS 3600:2019)
  • AS 1657: 2018 Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders – Design, construction and installation
  • AS ISO 13822-2005 (R2016) Basis for design of structures – Assessment of existing structures (ISO 13822:2001, MOD)
  • ISO 13824: 2009 Bases for design of structures – GENERAL PRINCIPLES ON RISK ASSESSMENT OF SYSTEMS INVOLVING STRUCTURES
  • AS 1418.11:2014 Cranes, hoists and winches Vehicle-loading cranes (EN 12999:2011, MOD)
  • AS 2550 (Various) Cranes hoists and winches
  • AS/NZS 1554SE:2014 Structural steel welding Set
  • AS/NZS 1170 Series (Structural Design)
  • AS/NZS ISO 31000 Risk management – Guidelines
  • AS 3990-1993(R2016) Mechanical equipment – Steelwork

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