When in doubt kit it out

NEW South Wales' mining authority is concerned some operators are confused about the state's protective device legislation and is setting the record straight.
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Staff Reporter

The Department of Primary Industries has reminded mine management that guidelines concerning operator protective devices on underground mobile plant are outlined in the state's Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000.

It reads that the employer is obliged to ensure there is an appropriate combination of operator protective devices fitted to plant if there is a risk of powered mobile plant overturning, an object falling on the operator or the operator being ejected from the seat.

The department suggests employers and operators take a look at their mobile underground plant and keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Where a risk to the operator or passenger is established, protective structures must be fitted;
  • The operator protective structure must be fit for purpose and consider the ergonomic needs of the operator;
  • The structure should be designed and tested to ensure it protects against the risk that the plant may be subject to during an incident;
  • The structure should be tested by an engineer and in accordance with a recognised standard for the type of mobile plant;
  • Load haul dump plant is considered as earthmoving equipment and is subject to different standards outlined in AS 2294 of the Australian Standards;
  • Any person installing, altering or removing protective devices from mobile plant must comply with a designer's obligation under Chapter 5 of the OHS Regulation 2001; and
  • Where provided operator protective structures and seat restraints must be used and maintained.

Furthermore, the DPI recommends taking the following actions on all mobile plant:

  • Fit with appropriate operator/passenger protective structures and seat restraints. This is considered mandatory for newly designed and manufactured mobile plant;
  • For mobile plant in use and not previously fitted with operator protective structures nor seat restraints, the mechanical engineering management plan must make provision to install appropriate operator protective devices as soon as reasonably practicable;
  • Interim risk control measures must be established during the transitional arrangements. Risk control measures should include consideration to roadway conditions, speed, seam height, operator restraints, roof and rib support and machine stability; and
  • Periodic reviews should be undertaken to substantiate the installation of an operator protective structure being not reasonably practicable. Where older equipment cannot comply, consideration should be given to using newer, fit-for-purpose equipment that does comply.