WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert highlighting the danger of mine workers being exposed to mobile plant fires, following 23 incidents involving fire on mobile plant at mines in Victoria – 19 occurred in underground mines and four in open cut mines – since January 2010.
Typical causes of fire include component failure and/or inadequate maintenance, according to the safety alert, which noted that common contributing factors were failure to maintain: integrity of pressurised hydraulic hoses; hydraulic lines clear of heated surfaces (inadequate clearance or insulation); and sources of oil leaking onto hot engine components, among other factors.
The safety alert recommended a number of preventative control measures, and design preventative control measures included:
Ensure hydraulic components are ‘like for like’ and considered suitable for use; always consult plant manufacturer before making changes
Ensure any contractor installations/design modifications that are undertaken offsite are verified onsite by the employer before use and are equivalent to manufacturer’s standards and design
Evaluate potential alternative higher flash point manufacturer-approved hydraulic oils, which contain Polyol Ester based fluids, phosphate esters or water glycol and emulsions. Such fluids must be compatible to the existing in situ components such as seals/fittings.
Installation preventative control measures included:
Use fire resistant anti-static hoses whenever possible and consider high temperature tolerant hoses designed for oil operating temperatures greater than 150º Celsius
Install and evaluate insulation around hot components or insulate hoses near hot components and upgrade to braided armour type hoses
Ensure wiring is protected against fire, and connections are appropriate to manufacturer’s requirements and suitably located.
Inspection and maintenance preventative control measures included:
Complete pre-start checks for locating and acting on oil leaks, sprays and stains.
Use thermal imaging equipment to detect hot spots and high temperature areas of plant during maintenance programs.
Routinely check solenoid connections for corrosion and replace/check at set engine hours or as per manufacturer recommendations. Consider protective devices for solenoids such as fuses.
Emergency response preventative control measures included:
Install fire detection and automatic fire suppression on plant that is used in high risk zones and install engine auto-shutdown systems that operate when the fire suppression system is discharged.
Ensure communication of fire-related events, maintenance incidents and subsequent attendance and associated follow-up is clear to employees
Unit 2/217-219 Mickleham Rd Tullamarine Victoria 3043