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Human Factors Engineering and Large Surface Mining Equipment

Open Cut » Health and Safety

Published: February 07Project Number: C14046

Get ReportAuthor: Jim Joy, Guldidar Kizil, Sue Leveritt | University of Qld

Mobile equipment related accidents are the most common accidents in Australian mining. Investigations usually identify human error as a contributing factor. Human error analysis on some events has found that error is due to equipment design problems, either in operability or maintainability. 

This project was a broadening of a previous examination of human error and equipment design, 2004 ACARP Grant C12012, Management of Potential Stereotypic Control Operation Errors in Underground and Surface Mining Equipment (Joy, 2004 et al).

This 2006 research project examines broader human factors equipment design issues that are faced by the surface mine equipment operators and maintenance personnel. It introduces the field of Human Factors Engineering (HFE). HFE explained in detail in the body of this report, attempts to optimise the interface between the person and the work design, or, in other words, fit the system to the person rather than making the person fit the system. As such, it has the potential to reduce equipment operation and maintenance losses that are due to inadequate workplace or equipment design.

Parallel to this project, a new, relevant industry initiative was also established during the project period. This ACARP project and the industry initiative were combined to complete the ACARP work. During this combined project, representatives from major mining houses came together to form a group known as the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT).

The objective of the project was to accelerate development and adoption of leading practice designs of earth moving equipment to minimise the risk to Health and Safety through a process of Original Equipment Manufacturer and user engagement.

The combined ACARP and EMESRT project included a meeting with three of the major mining houses (Anglo Coal, BHP Billiton, and Xstrata), two workshops with four major mining houses (Anglo Coal, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, and Xstrata), and several teleconference calls with the six major mining houses (Anglo Coal, BHP Billiton, Newmont, Phelps Dodge, Rio Tinto, and Xstrata). The workshops brought the major mining houses together to form an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) strategy. The respective companies’ equipment design expectations were also gathered.

One of the key outcomes of the project was development of an OEM engagement strategy targeting short term, demonstrable success for both the companies and OEMs.  In October 2006, a series of meetings were held between the EMESRT members, and six of the manufacturers of earth moving equipment (Caterpillar, Hitachi, Komatsu, LeTourneau, Liebherr, and Terex) at their North American offices. These meetings, facilitated by the principal author, have established the basis for a future process of ongoing engagement between Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and mining companies.

The scope of this report was large surface mobile equipment. The project focused on providing best practice HFE information for major surface mining equipment and this is provided in the Appendices in the form of literature-based criteria and the EMESRT developed Design Philosophies.

The development of fifteen HFE Design Philosophies provide an image of many human factors ‘problems’. They represent a significant step forward based on the “common voice” of the EMESRT members, although the future of EMESRT and the Design Philosophies, most of which are still in the draft stages, will be determined after the completion date of this report. It is likely that a more complete set will be completed by EMESRT in 2007 and made available to interested parties through a website, possibly www.mishc.uq.edu.au.

OEMs views about EMESRT’s future direction and its role for improvement of future equipment design were elicited at the October 2006 meetings. It is the intention of EMESRT to evaluate outcomes of those meetings with the OEMs to consider a defined future engagement process. 

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