NSW regulator flags collision communication concerns

The New South Wales Resources Regulator has determined a lack of communication is behind a collision between a grader and haul truck at an open cut mine earlier this month.

The collision occurred when the grader operator performed a u-turn while the haul truck was overtaking.

According to the regulator, the grader operator did not check to see if the road was clear before conducting the u-turn, while the haul truck operator was following the correct process.

The regulator has encouraged the industry to develop, review and update its procedures for mobile plant on site, including proximity detection and communication.

Passing indicators on graders could also boost safety, the regulator stated.

The regulator has previously put an emphasis on communications due to mobile plant collisions on mine sites in 2018.

Four incidents in an NSW Resources Regulator incident report were found to be due to a lack of communications.

According to the regulator, each instance involved an operator entering an area in the vicinity of another machine/vehicle operator without giving any positive communication.

The first incident involved a haul truck attempting to pass a stationary grader.

According to the NSW Resources Regulator safety bulletin, the haul truck approached the grader with the understanding he had received instruction to proceed, despite no instruction being given.

The collision caused major damage to both machines but no injuries were endured.

The second incident involved a haul truck passing a stationary grader between the right-hand side of both machines.

The grader operator tried to make radio contact with the haul truck driver, but was unable to as he was tuned into a different radio channel. There were no injuries reported.

An excavator, which did not have a working camera and proximity system, reversed into a dozer in the third recorded incident.

The dozer operator attempted to make contact via radio but was unable to as the radio was busy, the regulator stated.

Two trucks operating in the same dump suffered a collision in the fourth incident.

One truck that entered the dump area while the other truck was instructed to dump resulted in a collision, with radio contact being unable to prevent the accident in time.

Contributing factors that the regulator identified in the four incidents included a lack of positive communication, instances where operators did not identify the need for positive communications, high radio traffic volume preventing communication, operators using different radio channels and a non-working camera and proximity system.

“While no injuries have been sustained in any of these incidents the potential for serious or fatal injuries was present in each case,” the regulator stated.

The regulator has recommended that all mines should identify and assess areas where mobile plant interacts, develop and update procedures to manage mobile plant interaction on site and train workers for communication procedures.