A number of safety initiatives were used on the recently completed $2 billion Rio Tinto Iron Ore Dampier Port Upgrade (DPU), which helped it to set a new benchmark in the Pilbara of more than five million staff hours worked without a lost time injury.
Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) contractor Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM), together with Rio Tinto personnel and contractors, worked collaboratively to achieve this record — the best safety achievement for any SKM project.
As EPCM contractor, SKM implemented a number of initiatives which contributed to this achievement.
Key among these was the focus on eliminating or reducing the potential for occupational health and safety risks during fabrication, construction and operation of the completed facility.
For example, SKM adopted an off-site modularisation technique for the construction of the wharf, which significantly improved the critical path for the delivery of the project and reduced the amount of hazardous work over water.
SKM’s WA/NT Regional Manager Malcolm Greenway said that by adopting techniques historically used in the off-shore oil and gas industry, the project had set a new benchmark in heavy wharf construction, now flowing through to other sites in the Pilbara.
“SKM developed a method of prefabricating 4 x 54m wharf topside modules in Phase A and a further 3 x 54m modules in Phase B, which were shipped as finished products and placed directly onto the pile caps installed on site, over a period of three days for each Phase,” Greenway said.
“The modularised approach was adopted in response to critical labour shortages, combined with an unprecedented resources boom, which placed construction schedule pressure on the project,” he said.
“By doing so, labour shortages were overcome and the project was accelerated, resulting in record shipments during the construction phase and several million tonnes extra in early ore sales that otherwise would have been foregone.
“Traditionally, working over water carries a high level of safety risk,” Greenway said.
“By utilising modular construction and maximising the amount of work undertaken at the fabricator’s workshop, the project team was able to save more than 100,000 construction staff hours on site.”
Another SKM safety initiative incorporated into the project involved formulating a Safety Committee consisting of the Construction Manager, Safety Superintendent and representatives from all contractors, which regularly met to openly discuss, identify and resolve safety issues and trends.
SKM’s DPU Project Manager Anthony Radici said that a number of safety issues were resolved via the committee.
“One of the leading indicators of developing trends of serious injuries is the frequency of minor injuries such as those requiring simple first aid,” he said.
“By analysing the frequency and the type of injury through a collective group in the committee, the incidence of more serious injuries was reduced.”
Radici also said that the development of better working relations through the collaborative program also contributed significantly to the project’s safety achievements.
SKM also implemented Rio Tinto’s Fitness for Work Program on the DPU project, which proved highly effective.
The program involves providing information and raising awareness on issues which impact on performance, such as fatigue, stress, working in hot environments and the hazards of working under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore General Manager Projects David Joyce, acknowledged SKM’s safety performance on the DPU project.
Joyce said that the success of the project was possible due to the leadership of both SKM and RTIO Expansion Projects personnel, as well as the full participation and commitment of contractors.
07 3244 7353