Komatsu showcases NSW safety initiatives

Komatsu Mining in Rutherford, New South Wales, has developed equipment that increases the safety of its people when conducting service work on machinery.

The 120-plus workforce is exposed to the risk of repetitive strain injuries, slips and falls when spending up to four hours manually rotating a tension wrench upon stripping back parts of machinery and motors on earthmoving equipment.

In order to mitigate the potential risk, the workers developed an idea to fit a geared motor to drive the shaft.

It was an initiative that won the original equipment manufacturer the icare Aware Award last month.

Developed in consultation with the Komatsu management and an external vendor, the workers designed a jig that is purposed to support the motor, removing manual handling and ergonomic hazard that is involved in the rigorous task.

Komatsu Rutherford site manager Sean McNamara said, “Consultation around safety has now become our norm: health and safety is a priority in all the work we do. We encourage all employees to raise any safety-related ideas, innovations, or improvements that will reduce or eliminate hazards and risks.

“This is the kind of innovation we encourage from our people as we strive for our goal of zero harm.”

Other initiatives that instil the safety culture in Komatsu are having safety meetings before the start of everyday; developing a hazard identification program; holding safety observation interactions; and rewarding employees with recognition prizes.

Jason McLaughlin, general manager of Injury Prevention and Pricing at not-for-profit insurance provider, icare, said, “By simply looking at things through a safety lens, not only has Komatsu Rutherford prevented potential injuries, they’ve also saved three hours of time on task: a valuable efficiency gain that will improve productivity well into the future.”

The Hunter region’s manufacturing industry has a frequency of 54 workers’ compensation claims per 1000 employees, a rate that is 93 per cent higher than the NSW manufacturing average of 28 per 1000 employees.