Hazard identification highlighted after belt incident

Resources Safety & Health Queensland (RSHQ) has recommended coal mine workers be trained in the standard work instruction for belt retractions/extensions following an incident at an underground coal mine.

The Regulator has also recommended workers are correctly trained in the use of heavy lifting equipment and hazard identification.

According to a statement from RSHQ, a crew was undertaking a belt retraction in an underground coal mine when the incident occurred.

“The belt slipped through the belt clamp, and once released it travelled approximately 300 meters before folding up within the confines of the belt structure,” RSHQ stated.

“This High Potential Incident (HPI) could have resulted in serious injury to coal mine workers.

“Fortunately, there were no workers in travel path of the belt. There were no injuries resulting from the incident but significant learnings for industry.”

According to RSHQ, there were insufficient chain blocks available on the job and coal mine workers assumed that a ratchet strap could be used for the same purpose as a chain block.

There was also no procedure for conducting a belt retraction.

The oncoming crew identified that the ratchet strap was unsuitable for the purpose and a chain block was found and installed on the belt clamp.

When the chain block was tensioned, the locking collars pulled off the belt clamp bars, allowing the belt to slip through the clamp.

Anchor points for chain blocks were randomly selected rib bolts, and no consideration was given to the angle of the load.

RSHQ stated that all coal mine workers should stop work where appropriate tools and equipment are not available, as well as ensuring workers are not in the line of fire.

It also recommended that coal mine workers ensure that they use appropriate tools and lifting equipment, comply with standard work instructions and install fit for purpose anchor points.

Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available.

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