Cutting down equipment risks

EQUIPMENT design issues are always on the radar during discussions on how to improve safety in underground coal mines, but Xstrata Coal is even looking at mine design to eliminate equipment-related risks for its 11-panel Ulan West longwall project.
Cutting down equipment risks Cutting down equipment risks Cutting down equipment risks Cutting down equipment risks Cutting down equipment risks

Image courtesy of Burgess-Limerick & Associates

Blair Price

Two weeks ago, ergonomist Robin Burgess-Limerick coordinated the first of two seminars as part on an update to his acclaimed 2005 ACARP project – Reducing Injury Risks Associated with Underground Coal Mining Equipment.

The project includes an analysis of more than 2000 injuries involving equipment underground and aims to identify potential control measures.

The full-day event in Pokolbin included presentations from key personnel in Xstrata, Centennial Coal, Joy, Sandvik, Industrea and the New South Wales state government.

A standout presentation was delivered by Xstrata’s senior mining engineer of the Ulan West project, Ben Smith.

He revealed that the equipment procurement process for the future mine would have a greater emphasis on “safety by design”, and this would be of particular interest to the original equipment manufacturers who’d be responding to tenders for the mine’s equipment.

He also added that the safety by design philosophy was extended to the mine design of Ulan West and provided examples of how the mine has been designed to reduce equipment-related risks.

Addressing risks during the design stage was also emphasised by the presentations from Industry & Investment NSW’s Paul Drain and Chris Gearing, and Xstrata’s Paul Gill and Centennial’s Peter Bergin who chipped in on behalf of the underground coal committee of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table.

Burgess-Limerick’s injury narrative analysis highlighted high-frequency combinations of equipment, activity and injury mechanisms and control measures

“Automated bolting, in conjunction with development monorail or flexible conveyer train, and non-line of sight continuous miner remote control, is seen as a high priority step change which will eliminate many injury risks,” Burgess-Limerick told ILN.

“Justin O'Sullivan [from Ergowork] carried this theme further and described the contribution ergonomists can make to the design of equipment, providing examples for the design of underground personnel transport and other equipment.”

Occupational hygienist Gary Foster delved into the often misunderstood health impacts from whole body vibration.

He discussed how to measure WBV and interpret it before he looked into the available control measures.

Eliminating vibration at its source was seen as an essential strategy, with maintaining roadways in good condition being the most important control measure, followed by vehicle suspension, cabin design and seating.

Xstrata Coal group safety manager Dave Mellows, one of the industry monitors for Burgess-Limerick’s project, outlined Xstrata’s processes with addressing equipment-related risks, which especially focus on reducing possible injuries with manual tasks such as cable bolting.

Joy’s Matthew Langbridge, and Sandvik’s Egmont Lammer, both covered the design processes used by their respective companies, and recent advances in continuous miner design.

Industrea’s Ross Stutchbury outlined the design thinking and innovations behind the company’s chock carriers and dozers.

Mackay seminar around the corner

While the registration deadline for the Mackay seminar was two days ago, Burgess-Limerick told ILN it was still possible to register.

The Mackay seminar on Tuesday at the Ocean International Hotel will be opened by ACARP project monitor and Peabody chief engineer Peter Brisbane.

Other presenters include Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation ergonomist Trudy Tilbury, SP Solutions director Peter Standish and Moranbah North general manager Tim Hobson.

A flyer and registration form is available at:

To register, phone Nicole Youngman at ACARP on 3229 7661. For further information contact Robin Burgess-Limerick by email:

The Ulan West project, adjacent to the Ulan operation, is expected to start thermal coal production in 2012, targeting 7 million tonnes per annum.