Underground » Health and Safety
The personal injuries attributable to travel in personnel carriers in the Australian underground mining industry have risen to an unacceptable level. In response to industry demands and through ACARP funding the Maintenance Technology Institute (MTI) has undertaken this research and made suggestions as to how this issue may be addressed.
The main objectives of this project were:
- To deliver a formal set of vehicle specifications that would lead to:
- A decrease in the incidence rate and severity of loss time injuries
- Positive changes to the safety culture of personnel carriers.
- Industry-wide standardisation of personnel carriers in underground mines
- To create the basis for a new concept underground mining personnel carrier.
In prelude to the current project, work undertaken with Kestrel Coal lead to the development of a satisfactory retrofit specification. This project successfully achieved improvements to several aspects of vehicle, such as seating ergonomics, impact attenuation and effective restraint.
By working as a multi-disciplinary team within Monash University (referred in the report as Monash Research Team), which included the Department of Design and the Monash University Accident research Centre (MUARC), MTI has been able to formulate a set of guidelines and specifications for an underground personnel transport vehicle, considering broader requirements of QLD and NSW underground mines. A generic set of specifications have been developed which can apply to the current fleet of vehicles as well as to new concept vehicles. A number of key aspects have been found cause vehicular injuries, including a lack of ergonomic consideration to seating position, inadequate vehicle suspension characteristics and a lack of personal restraint in the event of a vehicle impact or rapid deceleration.
The specifications have addressed many of the vehicle short-comings of the current vehicles in terms of safety and comfort, with particular emphasis on:
- Cabin layout
- Effective Personnel Restraint
- Suspension Characteristics
A study of ergonomic principals has lead to the generic specification of seating geometry and layout, for a number of vehicle sizes. It has been found that the introduction of seat suspension and modifications to parts of the vehicle suspension resulted in an improved ride, with significant reductions in shock impact. Further investigation may enable a more optimised suspension specification for specific mine terrain and vehicle application.