The annual award is presented to recognise safety ideas that originate at mine sites with wide industry applicability. The idea was developed at the Pacific Coal Kestrel Mine, a Rio Tinto Company by Bob Browne, Kestrel’s superintendent supply.
The idea for the safety improvement evolved out of the introduction of an energy isolation lockout policy within the Rio Tinto Group, Browne said.
The policy required positive isolation of electrical energy when maintenance of equipment was carried out and this was readily available.
“When it came to air and water most types of isolation came in the form of detachable lockout attachments which required them to be either securely stored near valves or carried on the person,” Browne said.
Within Kestrel’s reticulation system some 500 Minsup 25mm Econovalves were in operation and the manufacturer did not have an isolation option available.
“After a number of hours developing ideas of something elaborate without success I started to think outside the box and finally came up with a rough design sketch. I took this and a valve to our local engineering company and had them make up a prototype which appeared to operate to perfection and offer us a solution.”
“I then approached the valve manufacturers, Dixon Minsup, with the prototype and asked them to provide us with the device in kit form to enable retro fitting to existing valves.”
The idea is that an attachment and valve handle and fitted over the existing valve to allow each valve to be isolated in situ when required.
“The benefits of this engineering modification means the valve now had the ability to be positively isolated with lockouts without the need for applying any remote attachment,” Browne said.
The retro kits allowed the mine to install the modification without the need for an extensive remove and replace exercise. Later, a further modification was made to the device when a potential pinch point between the lockout and the handle was identified.
This was rectified by incorporating a full half circle filler piece thus eliminating the hazard and providing a further benefit of negative isolation.
“This exercise has been extremely cost effective as it allowed retro fitting to existing valves at a one off cost of $17 per valve.”
This innovating improvement has transferability globally wherever the 25mm Dixon Minsup Econovalves are in use.