The New South Wales Resources Regulator has warned mine operators to review connection points for work that involves towing, following an accident at Newcrest Mining’s Cadia gold mine earlier this year.
The accident happened at the New South Wales mine on August 31, where an electrician in the man-basket was struck in the torso by a broken handrail when a rope recoiled, causing blunt force trauma to his left side.
The workers had installed a high voltage cable in an underground part of the Cadia East mine and were provided with verbal work instructions but no documented procedure available.
They used a process that was believed to be similar to the one used at another mine interstate, involving the use of an integrated tool carrier (ITC) to pull the cable through rollers using a rope attached to a cable sock and man basket on the ITC.
Following the incident investigation, the regulator stated that workers must be able to identify whether critical controls were required and implemented appropriately, regardless of whether there was a documented procedure for that task.
The regulator also deemed the cable rollers used for the task not fit for purpose for pulling a cable around a corner, therefore the mine should develop a procedure that eliminates the requirement to use rope to pull through cable rollers.
“When planning a task involving towing or snigging, the working load limit of all components, including the connection points, is considered in the development of the workplan, risk assessment and procedures,” the regulator stated.
“Towing points are to be engineered, rated, correctly installed, inspected regularly and labelled as a designated towing point for the applicable task.”
The regulator also recommended the establishment of barricaded safe standing zones to mitigate the risk of towing system failures.
According to Newcrest chairman Peter Hay, this year had been a busy period for the company as it improved its underlying safety and performance.
In February 2018, the company announced plans to forge a stronger Newcrest by focussing on outcomes that would be achieved by the end of this year, under five pillars comprising safety and sustainability, people, operating performance, technology and innovations and profitable growth.
“I am pleased to report that we are now more than five years free of fatalities and life-changing injuries and in the financial year just ended we had an industry total recordable injury free rate of 2.6 per million hours worked,” Hay said.
“This significant achievement would have been possible without the commitment of our people and the proven success of Newcrest’s safety transformation plan.”
Following the impact of COVID-19, Newcrest made the safety of its people and host communities its number one priority.
As a result of the company’s actions, it did not experience any COVID-19 related interruptions to its operations in the financial year.
“We continue to remain vigilant to ensure that the risk of infection, interruption to our business, and impact to the wider community is mitigated while COVID-19 remains an enduring challenge for society,” Hay said.