Blog

Managing Safety Risks When Maintaining Plant and Mining Equipment
Share this article


Mining is a high-risk industry, where incidents and fatalities are more predominant compared to other sectors and industries. Maintenance of mining equipment is an essential requirement and is one step that can be taken to help decrease the number of incidents and fatalities, whilst increasing and improving efficiency, general performance and safety outcomes for the organisation.

While good mining equipment maintenance is key when it comes to safety on the mining site, the maintenance process in itself is fraught with risk. Simple maintenance checks can help avoid many of the risks or incidents associated with equipment failure and exposure of workers to dangerous conditions.

Implementing safety strategies when maintaining plant and equipment

Implementing safety strategies when maintaining plant and equipment

Safety is a great issue in the mining industry; as mining injuries, fatalities, or near-fatalities make national or international headlines in the media, the issue becomes even more critical. Such occurrences are alarm bells to management in that the simple and seemingly safe tasks of maintenance are the cause of so many serious injuries and deaths. Therefore, improving equipment maintainability is a most direct and effective ways to improve safety.

Here are safety strategies that can be implemented to manage the risk when maintaining plant and equipment on mine sites. They are as follows:

The use of safer equipment

It is important to utilise equipment specifically designed with safety protocols where maintenance develops to an easier task. No amount of safety programs will reduce the risks to zero associated with faulty maintainability on poorly designed mining equipment. Where a better and safety alternative is available, it should always be utilised.

Planning and effective communication

Never compromise the safety of workers when trying to meet deadlines or boost the quality of work. Plan your maintenance tasks with safety at the first priority and communicate necessary shutdowns with all affected employees. Explore the use of safety lockout procedures to mitigate injury and fatality risks when completing scheduled maintenance.

Specific targeted training 

All workers should undergo safety training, with periodic refresher courses, or updates for new equipment. This includes how to perform required maintenance safely, as well as correct lockout procedures for each piece of relevant machinery. When employees are not adequately trained in the proper maintenance procedures associated with specific plant and equipment, the risk of injury or fatality is increased tenfold.

Wearing appropriate safety PPE

All workers must wear the appropriate safety equipment when operating heavy machinery. This includes proper PPE to protect the eyes, ears, face, head, skin, and feet. Talk to your employer about acquiring the correct PPE relevant to your position to ensure safety protocols are maintained.

Customised safety operational procedures 

Safety operational procedures must be clearly defined so that all workers are familiar with the process. Ensure that instructions are displayed in locations that are easily accessible and all employees are adequately informed and trained in the proper process. Where a procedure may change due to acquisition of different or more advanced equipment, ensure procedures are regularly updates to keep everyone safe.

Ensure compliance with current legislation

Ensure all safety equipment is serviced regularly and meets all the current safety standards. If an item is obsolete, ensure that it is updated to reflect this and promptly taken out of service. Continue to monitor for changes in legislation in the mining industry to ensure that compliance is maintained across all departments and employees are updated and trained in legislative changes.

Ensure high visibility on work sites 

Appropriate lighting is a must to ensure the safety of the workers at a mine site. From on-site vehicles to underground tasks, a clear visibility of the surroundings can significantly minimise incidents and accidents. 

Compliance with electrical safety requirements

All the cables, cords and electronics in damp mining environments can increase the risk of electrocution or electric shock, therefore it is vital to maintain electrical safety standards to protect workers from the associated hazards.  

Ensuring safety standards are met within the mining industry

Ensuring safety standards are met within the mining industry

Mining machinery is complex and dangerous and could cause serious harm or fatal accidents. Therefore, incidents can occur when workers are either not adequately trained to handle the equipment, fatigued, not following safety procedures or the necessary maintenance checks on the equipment have not been omitted. 

Through regular maintenance checks and reviews of the safety processes, catastrophe events can be avoided. Ignoring the red flags, as something as insignificant as a windscreen crack, a cut in a tyre or oil drip can have dangerous consequences. Therefore, constant observation and early intervention where maintenance is required could save lives and the business reputation. This includes the use of proper lockout devices for scheduled maintenance as well as out of service devices for decommissioned machinery.

Locksafe are committed to making sure machinery is isolated and safe for scheduled maintenance and decommission. Their range of locking brackets, isolators, switches, and specialty products allow machinery to be deemed safe before scheduled maintenance can begin. Manufactured to Australian quality standards and powder coated for easy identification, Locksafe guarantee robust products that are designed to last. Talk to the team about your lockout and isolation product requirements on (08) 9455 7255 or reach out via email on info@locksafe.com.au.

Related articles