Investigation reveals cause of near miss crush at BHP coal mine

An investigation into a vehicle crush incident at BHP’s Mt Arthur coal mine has highlighted the potential risks of light vehicle accidents on site.

The incident occurred late last year, when a dozer and light vehicle collided.

Initial findings into the accident suggest the dozer operator was not at fault.

It is thought the dozer was cutting out an access road into a new pad when a light vehicle tried to go around the machine as it was reversing and was clipped.

Now findings have shown what happened that day, and that the light vehicle driver was at fault.

In its report on the incident the Mine Safety Investigation Unit stated that “the LV driver and dozer operator had a conversation and decided the dozer operator would smooth out the new access ramp. The LV driver was to wait at the designated parking area until the work was completed”.

“The dozer operator stated back blading the access ramp by reversing from the bench down the ramp towards the parking area.

“During these works the LV driver said he drove the LV towards the dozer as he believed that the dozer operator had finished the back blading work. The LV driver also reported he attempted to make positive radio contact with the dozer operator and believed had had; however the dozer operator was on another radio channel to his supervisor and didn’t hear the LV driver’s radio call,” the report states.

“The LV driver stopped at the bottom of the ramp and waited for the dozer to stop. When the LV driver realised that the dozer operator was not going to stop he attempted to engage reverse gear.

“The LV driver reported he was unable to engage reverse gear and he began sounding the LV’s horn. As the dozer approached, the LV driver remained in the LV. The dozer operator was unaware that the LV had approached within 50 m of the dozer and was now directly behind the dozer. As the dozer reversed, the dozer operator reported he was focusing on the back blading task and could not see the LV.

“The dozer reversed 2.5 m over the passenger’s side of the LV with its left hand track before stopping and moving in a forward direction. The LV driver escaped without injury.”

The LV driver was sacked the very next day.

The MSIU found that the light vehicle had ignored safety protocols.

Its findings come as the investigation into a fatal incident at the Ravensworth mine, where a female LV driver was crushed to death after a collision with a haul track, continues.

A recommendation by the MSIU to avoid incidents like these to “manage LV and heavy machinery interactions” may “include designated LV only roads and access areas, [the] use of proximity detection/collision avoidance technology, or a combination of both”.



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