THE Queensland Department of Mines & Energy has issued an alert following an incident at an underground metalliferous mine where a blast crew member’s retractable lifeline snapped while he was walking towards an open stope.
The man connected himself to a retractable lifeline / fall arrest equipment and started walking towards the top of an open stope when the cable of the lifeline snapped in his hand just above the retraction stop ball.
The blast crew member had not reached the safety barricade when the incident occurred. However, the same lifeline had been used earlier in the shift.
The retractable steel cable lifeline had been manufactured about 12 months before the incident.
The lifeline’s steel cable was corroded, had not been tested and no pre-use inspection was undertaken, according to a report issued by Rob O’Sullivan, Manager Safety and Health, Queensland Department of Mines and Energy.
O’Sullivan said there were several contributing factors to this high potential incident:
- Not following procedures – using a retractable lifeline without conducting an adequate pre-use inspection.
- Using defective equipment – using a retractable lifeline that was corroded and should not have been in service.
- Inadequate warning system — the out of date inspection tag was not identified prior to use.
- Poor housekeeping – the carry bag was in poor condition and contained small quantities of water and mud.
In light of the incident, O’Sullivan recommended:
- Careful consideration by way of a risk assessment should be completed before purchase to ensure equipment is fit for purpose and able to withstand a range of prevailing environmental conditions.
- Include fall arrest equipment on the equipment register to ensure all such devices are captured by periodic maintenance inspections. Using a colour coded tagging system can show whether items are within period of allowable use since the last formal inspection.
- Use a formal pre-use inspection checklist to reinforce appropriate serviceability inspection by the user.
Manager Safety and Health — North Region