Escapeway failures

QUEENSLAND’S underground coal sector has been warned to keep escapeway access clear as inspections demonstrate a worrying trend.
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Blair Price

“Recent inspections of underground coal mines have revealed that in some instances, the access between the primary and secondary escapeways has been blocked by equipment and materials storage,” the Department of Natural Resources and Mines said in a safety alert.

“In some cases the roadways have been blocked off with stone and loose coal stowage. This issue has also been observed during a number of level 1 emergency exercises.”

DNRM said recent inspections also found significant accumulations of water and slurry, hard-to-see sumps, rope guides that led into unintended directions, trip hazards and squeeze points.

“These hazards can impede coal mine workers’ ability to escape from an alternative escapeway,” DNRM said.

Site senior executives were reminded of their obligations to ensure that two escapeways to the surface remained functional and separate from one another without obstructed access.

The following recommendations were made:

  • Audit escapeways to ensure access between the primary and secondary escapeways is unobstructed and the ability of persons to escape in either escapeway is not affected. This should include the actual roadway conditions
  • Develop and implement mine protocols for storage of materials and equipment in cut-throughs that form accessways between escapeways so that storage does not impede access between the two roadways.

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