Crinum tackles risk

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Crinum mine is tackling the high-risk task of belt retraction with a new monorail system.

Staff Reporter

Published in the March 2010 Australian Longwall Magazine

The monorail, which was trialled throughout February, was installed as one of the upshots of BMA’s JobFit system which has been used throughout the company’s mines to identify high-risk tasks.

JobFit uses standardised tools and processes to record the key physical components of job tasks such as the frequency and types of postures as well as the weight of materials being lifted. The system lists every physical task performed at BMA, and collects detailed information about the way each task is performed, such as equipment used, working postures and weights carried.

Gregory Crinum occupational therapist Leesa Hudson said the data collected provided a starting point for targeted risk-management strategies such as ergonomic redesign and risk communication.

“Once the more physically demanding tasks are identified, we work with the real task experts – the team members who perform these manual duties every day – to develop the most appropriate strategy,” Hudson said.

The system identified a task requiring an above-shoulder lift of more than 30kg as a high functional demand. From this, each BMA site was given a different set of heavy tasks to focus on. For Crinum, one of those tasks was belt retraction.

An Ergonomics Task Force, including an ergonomic expert, was used at Crinum late last year to review the original JobFit report and how belt retraction was performed.

The taskforce then met with employees and managers onsite to discuss ways to reduce the heavy lift.

“While investigations are continuing, the above-shoulder lift was eliminated in the interim by modifying the pre-task risk assessment to ensure workers were not placing themselves at risk during this task,” BMA said.

While an interim solution is in place, work is still being undertaken to find engineering controls to support the changes in procedure.

Apart from updating the JSA to eliminate lifts of more than 30kg above shoulder height, the longwall department has also purchased a new monorail system that may help further reduce any risk associated with this task.

The monorail will allow workers to avoid the task of lifting heavy belt components above shoulder height during retraction.

Instead the monorail system will help minimise the awkward postures adopted by workers during heavy lifting.

“Because the heights of monorail baskets can be adjusted, workers may be able to work with components at waist height instead of above-shoulder height. This keeps the body in a position where injury is less likely to happen,” BMA said.

The monorail system and baskets have recently been installed and trialled, and it will be reviewed and fine-tuned. Once the system is up and running, the ETF will complete a secondary functional task analysis so that ergonomic recommendations can be made to the longwall department.

The ETF has completed a data review of all incidents and injuries relating to the belt retraction, so that once a trial and review of the system has been completed, data can be compared.

Other BMA sites are working on separate over-shoulder lifting tasks, and when the work is completed and the tasks are eliminated or re-designed, the information will be shared so all sites can benefit from the lessons learned.

JobFit is not the only area where Crinum has shown its innovative side. The mine has also successfully trialled a new electronic card-based access management system to boost workplace safety.

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