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South32 to update procedures following Appin North accident

The New South Wales Resources Regulator has urged mining companies to complete a risk assessment when equipment is replaced, changed or needs to be replaced while safety controls are removed.

This comes after completing an incident report for an accident at South32’s Appin North coal mine, where a worker injured their foot due to ad hoc safety processes.

The worker, whose foot became entangled in the scraper conveyor in a small section of mesh while hosing down coal fines, was working on the Appin North scraper conveyor drift for just the second time.

He had, however, intermittently worked at the Appin complex since late 2014.

After an investigation by the regulator, it uncovered that a safety rail had been removed to allow for the installation of the new scraper conveyor.

The drift access area was also covered in coal fines, due to the old scraper conveyor being out of service.

The regulator also discovered that lights within the drift were not working, leading employees to rely on cap lamps as their sole source of light.

“The investigation identified that there was poor management and control of the replacement project with key personnel being replaced partway through, coupled with a poor handover to new team members,” the regulator stated.

“The mine had not undertaken the introduction to site procedure for the new scraper conveyor and no person had undertaken assessment of the risk of installing the tech mesh and operating the scraper conveyor with the safety rails and emergency stop lanyard not in place.”

After the accident, South32 completed works in the conveyor drift and conducted an audit on the guarding.

A consultant recommended the site establishes an emergency stop lanyard system, removes all debris from the walkway and that guards are installed with nuts that can only be removed with specialist equipment.

The consultant also suggested Appin North to consider adopting a pre-start requirement for the scarper conveyor.

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