Conveyor, tailing dams among NSW regulator’s safety concerns

The NSW Resources Regulator points to the risks involved in the operation of conveyors, tailing dams and on the roads and vehicle operating areas at quarries.

The ‘Health and safety at quarries’ guideline prescribes all belt conveyors to be fitted with an emergency stop system and receive regular inspection.

This is expected to minimise the risk of persons near or travelling under the conveyor being struck by falling objects.

In preventing the failure of a tailings dam, the design of overburden dumps and dams should also allow for seismic risk; size and lifespan; and equipment or operational methods used.

The NSW Resources Regulator emphasises that, “A well designed and constructed dump or dam will have the lowest long-term and operational risk (e.g. structural failure).

“The overall message is safety by design.”

It further applies to roads and vehicle operating areas, where hazards may occur at an extractive site.

Control measures relating to such should consider the impact of mine design, including banks and steep drops; as well as potential interaction areas between mobile plant and pedestrians, public traffic and fixed structures.

This can prevent unwanted events such as vehicles rolling over or going over edges.

Further, traffic management measures need to observe the selecting and maintaining suitable vehicles, as well as hiring of safe and appropriately trained drivers.

The guideline underlines the safety of individuals who carry out remote work, and are therefore isolated from the assistance of other people.

In such case, employers need to be aware of the length of time the person is working alone, available forms of communication and hazards associated with the work.

It says, “Managing the health of workers is part of your workplace health and safety (WHS) responsibility. [It] also pays dividends in terms of increased productivity, reduced sick leave, improved staff morale and loyalty.”

This includes providing them with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); protection from vibration, dust, fumes and thermal stress; as well as risk management of fatigue, drugs and alcohol.

The guideline applies to surface sand, gemstone and alluvial mines, but not coal mines.

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