Repairing a bretby safely

LIFTING a longwall bretby to repair or replace can be a dangerous job – methods are slow, workers are exposed to the risk of roof/rib material falling when lowering or raising chocks or being hit by a runaway falling bretby, cable or hose. To combat these risks Xstrata’s West Wallsend colliery designed a longwall bretby lifter and safety brackets.
Repairing a bretby safely Repairing a bretby safely Repairing a bretby safely Repairing a bretby safely Repairing a bretby safely

West Wallsend's bretby lifter and safety brackets

Angie Tomlinson

Featured as a finalist in the 2004 New South Minerals Council’s Occupational Health and Safety Innovation Awards, the innovations have been coined the Bret-Luge and Bret-Safe by West Wallsend electrician and electrical check inspector Michael Styles and his team.

At West Wallsend, like most longwall operations, when a longwall shearer bretby, shearer cable or high pressure hose becomes damaged there was no safe way of repairing or replacing it.

To repair or replace the longwall bretby needed to be lifted and rested on the Armoured Face Conveyor (AFC). This can expose as many as 20 people at any one time to slips, trips, falls, cuts, strains; risk of the bretby, hose or cabling falling; or the roof or rib falling.

To combat these risks the mine integrated a system that allowed the bretby to be lifted above the furnishing height to enable it to be secured from falling.

Styles and his team designed a trolley pulled along the AFC by two men which raised the bretby. While this was being done another person followed installing longwall bretby safety brackets.

The Bret-Luge sits on top of the furnishings with specially designed wheels to prevent the trolley from falling off the top of the furnishing. The brackets are lightweight with a locking pin to prevent the bracket from movement.

On top of where the bretby sits are two wings to prevent it from sliding off whilst removing a damaged hose or cable.

The Luge and Bret-Safe have eliminated unplanned movement; slip, trip and fall hazards; risk of falling roof/rib material; over exertion and bad ergonomics.

Styles innovation has resulted in a risk rank reduction using the West Wallsend risk score calculator of 250 to 10, which is class one reduced to a class three risk.