Worker nearly drives off underground stope

A WA underground worker has a lucky escape after their light vehicle accidentally drove partially over the edge of an open stope.

The incident occurred when an underground surveyor arrived at a level that accessed the top of a recently completed stope to carry out a cavity monitoring survey, according to the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum.

The surveyor initially removed the danger and warning signs at the level access, and began to reverse their light vehicle towards the open stope, expecting to find the second set of signs hanging in the access, in line with the site’s standard safety procedure, as this was the spot typically used to unload the surveying equipment.

However the second set of signs was not there.

The vehicle proceeded to reverse until the rear wheels dropped over the edge of the 18 metre deep open stope, while the light vehicle’s frame bottomed out on the floor at the void’s edge, skidding 20 to 30 centimetres before coming to a stop.

The surveyor managed to use the two-way radio to call for help, with an LHD rescuing the worker by securing their vehicle to the loader with a chain.

An emergency response team then arrived and further secured the vehicle with additional slings and rope, pulling the surveyor out through the driver’s side window.

The worker escaped unharmed.

The DMP investigation highlighted the issue of inconsistent signage and a lack of hard barriers as causes of the incident, adding that there was no official procedure for carrying out cavity monitoring surveys. 

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