Simplifying safety warnings for equipment operators

REDARC and Hummingbird have joined forces to improve mine safety.

REDARC and Hummingbird have combined to create a ‘powerhouse wealth of knowledge’ that is being used to address common safety issues at mine sites. Safe to Work writes.

Operating colossal vehicles on mine sites is a task that comes with huge responsibility, given the consequences of an accident.

This has been a consistent theme in the mining industry of late, with federal and state governments cracking down on safety regulation at mining operations around Australia.

Hummingbird Electronics, part of the REDARC Group since May 2015, has taken on the role of putting the safety talk into practice, noticing the grave consequences that can result from mining accidents.

The benefits of being proactive with regards to safety to personnel can not only save lives, but also has huge economic upside, according to Hummingbird national sales and marketing manager Mark Bruce.

“My question is, what is the cost of safety to a business if you don’t employ devices to reduce the risks?” Bruce says.

This very observation is what has led to Hummingbird’s introduction of a product range that is based on minimising the risk of accidents occurring on mine sites, through direct consultation with those that are on the ground.

“We directly consult with mine sites, find out what is concerning them and then provide them with innovative solutions,” Bruce says.

“It’s no good us bringing out a product that we think mining company’s need, instead, through consultation we can create exactly what is required and develop it with them.”

This mindset coincides with Hummingbird noticing trends of hazardous behaviour that could potentially lead to injury, a method that was crucial in the development of their audio alert system.

An incident on the Sydney Harbour Bridge a number of years ago led to the innovation that is now widely being considered by mining companies across Australia.

In this example, a bus was stuck in peak hour traffic, the driver was confronted with a flashing light and buzzer on the bus’ dashboard.

It was one of a plethora of lights and buzzers that the driver was faced with and dangerously, the driver was oblivious to what it meant.

As smoke engulfed the bus, it soon became clear that the engine was on fire and luckily, all the passengers and the driver escaped unharmed.

The result, however, could have potentially been catastrophic and is also a highly relevant safety issue for mining equipment operators, which are confronted with myriad lights, buzzers and symbols on various machine dashboards.

Learning from this near disaster led to the introduction of the Hummingbird-developed audible warning system, which presents clear verbal messages that improve on the incumbent warning systems for heavy machine operators.

Basic messages such as ‘please fasten your seatbelt’ or ‘apply handbrake’ have the potential to save lives and lead to a significant reduction in injuries, according to Bruce.

Preventing vehicle rollovers is one safety issue being explored.

 

“When accidents occur on mine sites, such as a heavy machine rolling over, it results in increased downtime, costs of replacing the vehicle and a serious hit to the reputation of a business,” Bruce says.

“Above all however, these devices could help save lives and significantly reduce the number of injuries on mine sites, which could have been prevented by implementing advanced warning systems such as these.”

Hummingbird is also striving to solve another prominent issue on mine sites: airborne diseases such as Black Lung that operators develop working in dusty coal environments with the presence of airborne pollution.

While it’s one thing to have an effective filtration system, Hummingbird’s cabin pressure monitoring systems provide both an audible and visual display to operators with a readout of the performance status of their cabin filters and/or cabin seal integrity.

Put simply, it indicates when positive pressure in the cabin is too low or high as the dangers of having either extremity presents risks to operators.

Low cabin pressure will not provide sufficient protection from dust and other harmful particles entering the cabin. So too, allowing the pressure to be too high can result in operator fatigue or headaches.

This approach of working directly with mine site operators to address safety issues coincides with the “powerhouse wealth of knowledge” that REDARC and Hummingbird combine to create.

Having worked in the industry for more than 30 years, Bruce epitomises the technical knowledge that is required to pick up trends in the mining industry relating to safety.

These facets of the company along with both producing and supporting products within Australia has the future looking bright for Hummingbird and the REDARC Group as mining safety continues to rise to prominence in companies across the country.

This article also appears in the Oct–Dec edition of Safe to Work.