Guarding against human error

A SAFETY bulletin from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries has identified operator behaviour as a risk factor in remote control mining equipment, and offered suggestions on how mining companies can reduce this risk.
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Christine Feary

The bulletin said that, despite industry efforts and technological advances, accidents involving remote control equipment continue to cause serious injuries, and even deaths.

In the bulletin the DPI has issued a number of recommendations for mine management, to encourage safe behaviour around remote-controlled equipment:

  • Ensure relevant risk assessments are undertaken and safe operating procedures developed, including all non-routine work;
  • Undertake a formal workplace audit of remote control equipment operations for personnel compliance with "control zones", "no standing zones" and "isolation rules";
  • Ensure the compliance audit method accesses equipment data logging information regarding isolation, where available;
  • Specify requirements for event data logging prior to acquisition or overhaul of remote-controlled machines - specifications should consider the associated risks of accessing the data and how the data supports occupational health and safety systems used at the mine;
  • Review the MDG 5004 (CJ Pitzer Report) and implement behaviour modification strategies where non-compliances are identified;
  • Review training systems for inexperienced persons and existing personnel to ensure competency in mining systems and procedures; and
  • Ensure that inspection reports are made in accordance with MDG 5002 and that mine inspection systems and inspection reports are retained.

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