Causes of Bengalla accident revealed by NSW regulator

Underground Grader

A fatal accident involving a tyre fitter at the Bengalla coal mine in New South Wales in late 2018 has highlighted the importance of conducting a risk assessment on wash bays.

This had not been undertaken at Bengalla, contributing to the accident when the employee was operating a tyre handler to replace a damaged earth moving tyre from a water cart.

The employee entered the restricted work zone and conveyed the tyre to the mine’s heavy vehicle wash bay to clean the tyre assembly during the replacement process.

A short time later, a co-worker recognised that the tyre was no longer in the grabs of the tyre handler, with the employee trapped underneath it.

The tyre and rim assembly weighed more than two tonnes.

The New South Wales Resources Regulator pointed out that the tyre was suspended with insufficient pressure applied to maintain the tyre within the grabs.

High-pressure water was also introduced to the suspended tyre, causing it to become unstable.

Following the accident, the co-worker called a emergency services and a response was activated.

“Several mine workers attended the wash bay to assist (the injured employee), however, it was apparent that his injuries were fatal,” the regulator stated.

“Emergency services and the NSW Resources Regulator were notified and attended the scene.”

The regulator recommended mine operations to focus on enforcing restricted work zones in relation to tyre handlers operation.

Workers also must never enter such zone while a tyre handler is supporting a load.

Plant and equipment designers and manufacturers must also design and manufacture tyre fitting attachments without risk to the health and safety of people who use the equipment at a workplace.

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