WesTrac enhances safety by removing workers from live equipment tasks

Caterpillar dealer WesTrac is boosting safety across Australian mine sites by removing personnel from working within the footprint of live equipment for up to 90 per cent of common maintenance tasks.

WesTrac staff have completed the elimination of live work (ELW) project by identifying technology, tools and work processes that eliminate the risks involved for people working closely with live equipment.

The ELW was introduced initially by one of WesTrac’s major mining clients but quickly gained industry-wide focus.

Since 2018, WesTrac has designed a range of specialised tools which provide live maintenance, machine inspections and real-time views that can be controlled from a distance via tablet.

One of these tools is a remote tablet-controlled camera, affectionately named R2D2, which is mounted on an anti-vibration base that can swivel 360 degrees to record inspections for closer follow-up investigations.

The company has also developed an ELW field service kit which can be used for both mobile and workshop-based operations to carry out inspections without sending personnel into high risk areas.

WesTrac Newman branch manager James Davey said the project aim was to eliminate significant risk factors to save lives.

“If things go wrong when people are working on live equipment with multiple moving parts, the results could be disastrous,” Davey said.

“It’s an area of major focus across the Australian mining and construction sectors to continually reduce risks and enhance safety performance.”

As well as removing employees from 90 per cent of the danger zones, WesTrac is also working to safe-proof the remaining 10 per cent of tasks that still require personnel to work within the live equipment footprint.

This is being achieved by enhancing procedures to have a greater focus on risk elimination, according to Davey.

“By December this year, we expect all sites to be equipped with the required tools, technology and understanding to carry out 90 per cent of all live work tasks under ELW work practices,” he said.

“When it comes to saving lives and reducing risk, everyone is willing to share technology, tools and knowledge to drive better outcomes.

“Over the next 12 months, our goal is to transition ELW from [being] a project to the standard way we work,” he concluded.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.