Ravensworth fatality investigation begins

THE New South Wales Mine Safety Investigation Unit has begun a formal investigation into an incident at Glencore’s Ravensworth mine on November 30 when a large haul truck collided with and ran over a light passenger vehicle, killing its driver.
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Lou Caruana

The light vehicle (LV) driver, a female trainee plant operator working at the mine, was an employee of a labour hire company and had 10 months experience in the coal mining industry.

The LV was entering the multi-purpose haul road around midnight on a weekend shift.

After delivering a haul truck to a stockpile area the worker drove the LV, a Toyota Landcruiser, back towards the main haul road.

It appears the LV entered the main haul road at a T-intersection and made a right-hand turn across the main haul road onto the left hand side of the road.

A fully laden Caterpillar 793D rear dump truck (RDT) hauling coal was also approaching the intersection.

The orientation was such that the LV was entering the road on the right-hand side (the blind side) of the RDT.

The RDT collided with the LV, resulting in damage to the vehicle.

The incident occurred at night. The intersection was not illuminated by any specific purpose-designed intersection lighting but there was ambient illumination from a workshop opposite the intersection.

It was not raining at the time, although earlier rainfall had left the roadways wet and muddy.

The Mine Safety Investigation Unit said its investigation into the incident would inevitably examine the relevant provisions of safety legislation and best practice.

“This will include an enquiry into the implementation of the hierarchy of control measures as expressed in safety legislation and whether technology and engineered methods are available to increase the reliability and effectiveness of controls in place to prevent the identified hazard,” it said.

“This incident highlights a significant hazard associated with interactions of large mobile mining equipment and other vehicles at all mining operations.

“The hazard has been recognised in mine safety legislation, which requires that a major hazard management plan be established for surface transport operations, stating how the health and safety of people who work at the mine will be protected from the hazard.”

The investigators will also examine, among other things: haul road design, including intersection design; control measures for separating heavy from light vehicles; night driving conditions and visibility; traffic control systems and intersection speeds; and collision avoidance and proximity detection systems.

The investigation will also consider whether the collision prevention controls in common use at NSW mines have a high reliance on human behaviour (procedural safeguards).