Operator crushed by automated longwall roof support

THE NSW Mines Safety Operations Branch has urged mine operators to apply the hierarchy of controls to risks in the operation of automated equipment after a mineworker received serious crush injuries while operating a longwall shearer.
Operator crushed by automated longwall roof support Operator crushed by automated longwall roof support Operator crushed by automated longwall roof support Operator crushed by automated longwall roof support Operator crushed by automated longwall roof support


Lou Caruana

The mineworker was found between the longwall roof support and the spill plate of the armoured face conveyor.

An investigation has been initiated by the NSW Department of Industry and Investment’s Mine Safety Operations and Investigation Unit.

The mineworker was operating the trailing drum of the shearer using a remote control transmitter.

For causes yet to be determined, the mineworker became crushed between an automatically advancing shield and the spill plate.

He was found lying over a relay bar with his lower legs and feet trapped beneath the pontoon of an adjacent roof support.

The mineworker was found semi-conscious with serious crush injuries to his pelvis, femur and lower abdomen.

The longwall walkway area was found to be narrow in places, restricting access, and was not protected from the ingress of face stone and flyrock.

Emergency stop facilities were not readily accessible for the injured mineworker as he lay trapped on the ground.

Pending the outcome of the investigation, the department recommends that all mines using remote-controlled mining equipment and automated mining systems adhere to review risk assessments, and identify and address all risks associated with remote controlled equipment operating within automated mining systems.

“Any analysis needs to consider persons who may be lying on the ground as a result of some personal condition, or as a result of being struck by something or simply by assuming a position as part of their work,” according to the alert.

“Adequate access and egress needs to be maintained on the walkway along the longwall face. When seeking guidance, standards such as AS 1657 can be referenced.

“Whilst this is not a mandatory standard it specifies that: ‘Where guard railing is provided on both sides of a walkway, the clear width of the walkway measured between the inner edge of the guardrails shall be not less than 550mm.’

“Regardless of the actual configuration and dimensions of the access, it needs to exhibit certain attributes. For example, persons must be able to pass safely and easily through, and there needs to be sufficient room for any rescue operations.”

The accessibility of emergency stop systems must be considered for all positions of persons on the longwall face. This includes workers who may not be standing, or who may be injured in some way.

Mine operators and managers of electrical engineering should be aware of the requirements of AS/NZS 4240.1:2009 Remote control systems for mining equipment.

Section 2, clause Safeguarding machines operators using a portable remote controller states: “Safeguarding shall be provided to shut the machine down in the event of the machine operator being disabled or falling over while controlling the machine.

“Where continued operation of sequential equipment, eg shearer instigated roof support systems, can cause a hazard, the operation of the safeguarding shall cause sequential operations to stop.”