Open Cut » Health and Safety
The objectives of the project were to:
- Identify and describe design issues with current mining equipment that are a barrier to workforce diversity;
- Document and evaluate remedial control measures currently undertaken at sites; and to
- Communicate the results of the investigation to equipment designers and mine sites.
Visits were undertaken to seven surface coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales to conduct focus group workshops and task observations. Additional information was obtained from previously documented assessments of manual tasks associated with earth moving equipment maintenance, including attempts to reduce manual tasks risks undertaken by a range of mine sites.
The information gained during the project was used to populate an EMERST control framework for equipment design for diversity. Two required operating states were defined:
- Earth moving equipment can be safely and comfortable operated by people of a maximum range of anthropometric diversity; and
- Earth moving equipment can be safely and comfortable maintained by people of a maximum range of anthropometric diversity.
The considerable consistency observed across focus groups and workshop observations undertaken during this project confirms that the concerns regarding the current design of mining equipment which prompted the project were justified in that aspects of earth moving equipment designs may unnecessarily restrict the range of potential employees who can operate and maintain the equipment, and in turn create elevated risks of injury for those who currently undertake tasks associated with operating and maintaining the equipment. The observations also confirm the concerns are not limited to one particular mine operator, mine site or original equipment manufacturer.