Roseanne Baxter – Occupational Therapist, Encompass Therapy
Holly Whitelaw – Data Collection Officer, Glencore Coal Assets Australia
Dozer operation at surface mining operations has traditionally been considered one of the higher risk tasks undertaken in the surface coal mining industry due to exposure to significant levels of whole-body vibration. As per Australian Standard AS2760.1, SafeWork Australia promotes the practice of regular monitoring of whole-body vibration levels and encourages employers to minimise workers’ exposure levels to below levels associated with increased risk of health affects. Although not legally binding, these limits are considered benchmarks in industry monitoring reports.
Recent published Australian research has shown a large spread of exposure levels, some of which exceeded recognised limits for likely health effects. A research project has been undertaken to gather whole-body vibration data matched to video and operator survey to investigate which tasks and in what ground conditions are dozer operators at a surface mining operation exposed to the higher levels of whole-body vibration. This provides rationale for prioritisation of allocation of controls targeted at the tasks and/or ground conditions associated with higher wholebody vibration readings.
Discussion regarding the range of data analysis methods currently referred to in research and industry reporting is advocated to improve consistency of reporting and understanding of results.
Prof Robin Burgess-Limerick – Professor of Human Factors, The University of Queensland
Operators of earth-moving equipment at surface mines are exposed to whole-body vibration. Prolonged exposure to high amplitude whole-body vibration accumulates to cause adverse health effects, particularly back disorders. The potential for instantaneous high impact loading also exists and these high impacts (jolts and jars) experienced by earth-moving equipment operators may cause acute injury. ACARP project C23022 successfully demonstrated the use of an iOS application (WBV) as a cost-effective means of measuring whole-body vibration.
An extension of this work is underway which enables continuous communication of the accelerations to which equipment operators are exposed to a central server to facilitate the management of both whole-body vibration and instantaneous impacts. The server software will undertake further analysis and provide an alert in the event that a high amplitude impact on the operator is detected, or when the daily vibration dose approaches the upper limit of the ISO2631.1 Health Guidance Caution Zone. The vibration data will also be combined with GPS data to allow further analysis of the sources of elevated whole-body vibration levels and high impact incidents.
Isolation of machinery is an everyday occurrence on mine sites, and practices have improved considerably over time. This presentation will explore some of the key advances in isolation
practices over many decades.
Up-to-date isolation-related incident data from Queensland will be presented and examined. It will be suggested that improvement has at best plateaued and that a shift is required in our approach to isolation practices – in particular: a focus on higher-order controls.
Human factors will be identified as the leading ongoing cause of isolation-related incidents. Highly effective, currently available treatment options will be discussed. In particular,
autonomous isolation (often called ‘remote isolation’), will be put forward as a key method of driving step-change improvement in this area. Using James Reason’s model of human error (slips,
lapses, mistakes and violations), it will be shown that autonomous isolation is highly effective in treating all forms of human error.
Case studies will be presented to demonstrate the benefits of autonomous isolation and a recent technical advancement will be introduced to demonstrate the continuing evolution of isolation.