An accident which happened on a mining site last year is a reminder of the need for adequate traffic management on work sites. The results of the investigation into the incident were just released, indicating that the light motor vehicle involved was at fault.
The accident took place at BHP’s Mt. Arthur Coal Mine last year and has been under investigation. A report was recently released by the Mine Safety Investigation Unit who discovered that the driver of the light motor vehicle had in fact been negligent of the site’s safety protocols which resulted in a collision with a dozer on the site.
This is also a reminder of why anyone involved in Mining construction must undergo the necessary general safety training, in Australia this training is known as The White Card course.
Anyone who engages in work in the construction industry, including mining construction must undergo White Card training to ensure that they are aware of the hazards presented by this type of work site. It is also important because mining construction is one of the most high risk industries in Australia, but despite the risks it is a popular sector because of the rewards and financial benefits it has to offer.
As the driver of the bulldozer found out, on a work site the actions of others can have serious implications for you and vice versa. The mistakes of one person can impact another or the entire site which is why the federal government has made White Card training compulsory for everyone in construction related industries.
For example if you are a construction vehicle operator or driver, even when you are sticking to the site’s traffic plan and basic safety requirements, if another driver isn’t, there is the chance that he/she could crash their vehicle into you or their actions could cause you to crash. That is why you as well as every other worker need to be adequately trained. The most basic of construction safety training is White Card training.
The Mt. Arthur Coal Mine accident was the fault of the light motor vehicle driver however the bulldozer driver also suffered the repercussions. According to the report the LV driver and dozer operator had discussed the dozer smoothing out the new access ramp while the LV driver waited at the designated parking area until the dozer had completed the job.
However due to an apparent misunderstanding the LV driver began moving the vehicle towards the dozer, believing that the back blading work had been completed. The LV driver tried signalling the dozer operator via the radio but because he was on another radio channel, the communication did not go through.
The report also stated that the LV driver had stopped at the bottom of the ramp and waited for the dozer to stop. When it became evident to the LV driver that the dozer operator was not going to stop, he attempted to engage reverse gear however was unable to do so and began sounding the LV’s horn.
As the dozer moved toward the LV, the LV driver remained in his vehicle. The dozer operator was unaware that the LV had approached within 50m of the dozer and was directly behind the dozer. The dozer operator who was concentrating on the back blading task did not see the LV as he continued to reverse the dozer.
The report then stated that the dozer reversed 2.5m over the passenger’s side of the LV with its left hand track before stopping and moving forward. Luckily the driver of the LV managed to escape without injury.
In a situation such this one proper planning should have preceded the task. For example the vehicles should have been on the same radio channel so that communication was possible during the operation. Operators should have been trained to do this before beginning such tasks. Some of the other recommended measures include:
- Having designated roads and access areas on the site for LV use only.
- Use of proximity detection and/or collision avoidance technology
- Better traffic planning and management of LV ad heavy machinery interactions
On any type of construction site traffic management is a crucial part of the safety planning. This incident is just one of a possible countless number of scenarios involving vehicles that can and have taken place on construction and mining sites and these operators were extremely lucky that no fatalities took place.
The most important consideration is probably the development of a traffic management plan. An adequate traffic management plan will at the very least:
- Separate vehicle traffic and pedestrians
- Use barriers to keep pedestrians and traffic apart
- Provide separate clearly marked pedestrian walkways that take a direct route where possible
- Provide signage at crossing points and ensure these are properly lit.
- When exiting the site, make sure drivers driving out onto public roads can see both ways along the footway before they move on to it