The dual-cabin Volkswagen Amarok utility was extensively crushed, but the LV driver was not injured in the incident, which occurred on an access ramp during back-blading works.
“The circumstances of this incident highlight the vulnerability of a light vehicle in this work environment,” the Mines Inspectorate said in its investigation of the incident.
“In this case, it appears the mine’s transport rules were not followed and positive radio contact was not established. The two operators were on different radio channels and other two-way radio calls from around the mine appear to have confused the LV driver’s perception of whether he was able to approach the dozer.
“Clear and unambiguous radio communications systems are a vital part of the safety system of every mine and constant attention must be applied to ensure their effectiveness.”
Before the incident, the light-vehicle (LV) driver was operating a haul truck at a mine shovel operation. The shovel required the floor of its operation to be cleaned, but the plant normally used to perform this task had broken down.
The LV driver was redeployed and drove the LV to a parking area of a nearby excavator bench, where he collected a dozer while the operator was on a meal break. The LV driver used the dozer to complete the shovel clean-up works.
The LV driver then trammed the dozer to the excavator bench and pushed in a new ramp to access the LV in the parking area below. At that time, the dozer operator was waiting at the parking area for the LV driver to return with the dozer.
The LV driver and the dozer operator had a conversation and decided the dozer operator would smooth out the new access ramp. The LV driver was to wait at the designated parking area until the work was completed.
The dozer operator started back-blading (the practice of dragging the back of the dozer blade, while reversing the dozer to smooth out the surface) the access ramp by reversing from the bench down the ramp toward the parking area.
During these works, the LV driver said he drove the LV towards the dozer because he believed that the dozer operator had finished the back-blading work.
The LV driver also reported that he attempted to make positive radio contact with the dozer operator and believed that he had made such contact. However, the dozer operator was on another radio channel to his supervisor and did not hear the LV driver’s radio call.
The LV driver stopped at the bottom of the ramp and waited for the dozer to stop. When the LV driver realised that the dozer operator was not going to stop, he attempted to engage reverse gear.
The LV driver reported he was unable to engage reverse gear and he began sounding the LV’s horn. As the dozer approached, the LV driver remained in the LV.
The dozer operator was unaware that the LV had approached within 50m of the dozer and was now directly behind the dozer. As the dozer reversed, the dozer operator reported he was focusing on the back-blading task and could not see the LV.