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Safety alert issued after screening plant side conveyor fails suddenly

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Friday, 19 August, 2022 - 12:00
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Victoria

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert reminding employers of the risks associated with modifying the structure of quarrying or mining plant.

The alert was issued following an incident on 4 August 2022, in which a side discharge conveyor on a screening plant at a quarry collapsed suddenly while operating.

The supporting structure failed at the midpoint, instantly causing the discharge end of the conveyor to collapse.

A steel diversion chute had been retrofitted to the discharge end of the conveyor several months before the incident. Clay material had also built up inside the chute, and the extra weight of the steel chute and built-up material caused the failure.

The steel diversion chute was not supplied, installed or checked by the manufacturer of the plant. No employees were injured in the incident.

To reduce the risk of plant structural failure, the alert said quarry and mine operators should:

  • conduct risk assessments during the commissioning of plant (ie. before first use) and after any modification to plant to identify all potential hazards and assess the adequacy of control measures
  • implement a change management process to help identify introduced hazards and their risks
  • engage experts and consult personnel when assessing risk or developing risk assessment teams to ensure all aspects of risk are considered. For matters of plant structural integrity, you should always engage qualified and certified engineers
  • ensure employees are trained to identify hazards and assess risk, including regular retraining
  • ensure employees are trained in the measures used for managing and controlling risk (eg. isolation procedures and related barrier controls used to prevent employee access)
  • engage Original Equipment Manufacturers before planning for or making any plant modifications