Confusion over tyre pressure requirements contributed to mine death

A coroner has recommended the mining industry adopt wireless tyre pressure sensing equipment after the death of a miner in 2010.

Wayne Robert MacDonald, 53, was killed at Anglo American’s Foxleigh mine in 2010 after changing a tyre on a trailer attached to a prime mover.

A coronial inquest in Queensland heard MacDonald died due to a “zipper failure” which caused a tyre to explode.

The failure caused a catastrophic percussive shockwave of air to strike him whilst he lay in the confined space between two sets of wheels on the trailer.

“There are compelling reasons why the system of work adopted by Mr MacDonald, of crawling between the two sets of dual wheels, should be condemned,” Queensland Coroner David O'Connell said in his assessment of the incident.

O'Connell wants to see the installation of remote pressure tyre monitoring systems at mine sites within two years.

He also said a trolley jack with an extended handle be used to avoid such close proximity to the tyres.

The inquest found there was "a great deal of confusion" from workers at the site as to the correct tyre pressure level.

A sign on the mine site said inflation pressure was 125 psi, which was less than the Goodyear recommended 130 psi.

O’Connell said this confusion led to tyres being operated outside the recommended parameters for speed, road conditions and inflation pressures for the load they are designed to carry.

‘It is clear to me that a recommendation needs to be made that mines review their tyre management practices to ensure that tyres are being operated within their appropriate parameters. It is also appropriate that an annual review occur to ensure compliance takes place,” he said.

However O'Connell also noted that at present there is no Australian Standard applicable to large diameter wheels and tyres, up to 24 inches.

 “What is disappointing is that prior inquests in Queensland have made recommendations for an Australian Standard to be revised (in the Inquest of Marshall) or alternatively reviewed or created (in the Inquest of Davis), but so far it appears to have simply fallen upon deaf ears,” he said.

O’Connell said every new or repaired tyre should undergo integrity testing by its inflation in a suitable tyre inflation cage to a pressure of 120% of the tyre’s recommended minimum cold operational inflation pressure, and then left for 20 minutes to test its integrity, before its pressure is reduced to its recommended minimum operating pressure before being fitted for use.

The full report can be accessed here.

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