Safe to Work May 2024

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Protect your people

Ensuring the safe handling of mining material


Intelligent safety features for the mines of tomorrow

United. Inspired.

Minetruck MT65 S

The Minetruck MT65 S is designed to handle a variety of tasks in an underground mine, such as decline haulage, level haulage, and tipping into ore passes and crushers. It is equipped with many smart features, like automatic brake test, neutral brake apply, and hill descend assist that not only provides increased safety to the operation but also to the operator. Thanks to the updated drivetrain, the machine enjoys new speeds going up the ramp as well down hill, increasing the number of cycles per shift.

After the disaster


When a rock collapse at a Ballarat gold mine placed 30 workers at major risk on the afternoon of Wednesday March 13, it set in motion a chain of events ranging from heartbreaking to reassuring. Those 30 miners became trapped by the rock collapse, with 28 of them successfully brought to the surface. One worker was later rescued and transported to a hospital in Melbourne, while one man died at the scene following extensive rescue efforts.

Positives cannot be drawn in the face of a tragedy like this unimaginable workplace death; however, a level of reassurance can be taken from the fact 28 of the workers at the gold

mine made it to the safety of an underground pod, allowing a specialist rescue team to bring them safely to the surface without incident.

While a fatal accident is often (and rightly) the focus of attention in such a situation, what takes place in the lives of those affected afterwards can be just as critical. Surviving a workplace accident can leave people with physical injuries that may alter the trajectory of their lives, or leave harderto-spot scars like trauma and survivor’s guilt.

In this issue of Safe to Work we delve into the idea of ensuring people’s safety and wellbeing following a major workplace disaster, with Brant Webb, one of the two men who survived the

2006 Beaconsfield mine collapse in Tasmania, offering a perspective few in the industry would be able to match.

“You can’t do anything about it. You just have to deal with the feelings that you’re left with if you survive,” he said. We also examine the safety pods that were so critical in keeping dozens of at-risk workers safe in a time of great danger. These safety chamber more than served their primary function, providing a much-needed safe haven in the disaster.




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8 After the disaster

The sticky web of trauma can be an ongoing struggle in the lives of those affected. But it’s not the end of the story.

18 Smart cleaners creating good vibrations

enterprise bargaining laws in the resources sector.

Flexco Elevate is making conveyor maintenance approachable, efficient and safe.

12 Protecting your people

Providing a safer alternative to steel conveyor guards, Diacon’s signature yellow plastic mesh guarding is tried, tested and trusted in the material handling industry.

14 Staying on track

Autonomous trains are helping

26 From the outside

Martin Engineering breaks down eliminating chute entry with an external wear liner.

34 Versatile lifting solutions

An adaptable and broad range of solutions from Vacuworx is making pipe handling safer and more efficient than ever.

44 Fire suppression for megaclass mining vehicles

Single-agent fire safety solutions can simplify installation, activation and clean-up when protecting heavy-duty industrial mobile equipment.

48 A legacy name treading new ground

Tough work environments like mine sites demand the toughest of footwear. Fortunately for the industry, Oliver Footwear is rising to the challenge.

this issue
36 18 34 08


Kito 415V chain and wire rope hoists come standard with state-of-the-art conditionmonitoring features, including hour meters and operation counters. This advanced technology allows for tracking of hoist usage, facilitating timely maintenance based on actual usage rather than arbitrary calendar schedules. With Kito hoists, users can say goodbye to premature replacements and unexpected downtime, saving time and money. The company’s dedication to innovation ensures lifting operations run smoothly and efficiently, minimising disruptions and maximising productivity. “Don’t compromise with outdated hoisting solutions that end up costing you more in the long run. Upgrade to Kito hoists today and witness the difference in performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness,” the company said. “It’s time to cease unnecessary hoist replacements with Kito’s advanced monitoring technology. Kito’s innovative hoists and lifting technologies prioritise safety and efficiency.” Since 1932, Kito precision-engineered solutions have been trusted globally for heavy lifting across various industries.




The MultiTool Pro is Australian-owned safety solutions company SafeGauge’s breakthrough technology in heavy-vehicle maintenance: .

The MultiTool Pro can connect up to 12 wireless tools (measuring pressure, temperature, speed and movement or wear) with added data-logging and reporting capabilities. Maintenance crews can now accurately log and report readings across a range of vehicles for routine and unplanned maintenance tasks safely and efficiently. Users can generate and export reports to enhance troubleshooting and data analysis using the interactive graph or digital view. There’s also the ability to customise a template for each machine and task, simplifying the set-up process. Reports can be downloaded, shared locally or via email straight from the device. The MultiTool Pro from SafeGauge is described as a “game-changer” – taking safety, and elimination of live work into the digital age.

Sepura, a UK-based company with over 20 years’ experience in mission-critical communications, has a suite of TETRA products tailored to the mining industry:

• VHF handheld and vehicle devices: offering superior range and lower base station density, reducing costs

• SC23: a robust handset with a simplified user interface that utilises existing SC20 accessories

• Ultra CSM speaker microphone: utilising anti-magnetic technology for iron ore sites where metallic particle ingress can impact product life and performance

Sepura’s design philosophy is to provide comprehensive solutions for its customers. Its focus in the mining sector is robustness, with the radio and speaker microphone being easy to maintain, rated to a minimum IP67 ingress protection and featuring Sepura’s unique water-porting technology. This means they undergo minimal degradation in audio clarity or loudness when exposed to driving moisture, such as during dust-suppression activities.



Hexagon Mining has introduced a significantly improved version of its collision avoidance system, consolidating powerful technology into just two hardware components: a smart antenna and a five-inch LCD display. Version 10 of the HxGN MineProtect Collision Avoidance System – known as CAS 10 – protects drivers and equipment with 360° operator awareness for vehicles, assets and operators in open-pit mines. Besides collision avoidance, MineProtect integrates systems for operator alertness, object and personal protection, and vehicle intervention by sharing the same hardware. The smart antenna integrates GPS, RF, Wi-Fi, LTE and ultra-wide band time of flight technology and the in-cabin touchscreen display features modern UI/UX consistent with Hexagon’s other on-board solutions. This creates a better driving experience, reduced deployment and training time, reduced supply chain complexity, and increased operator adoption.



Workplace culture

After the disaster


Avast legislative framework, rigorous training, and significant investment in safety technology come together to make the mining industry one of the most regulated sectors in the country.

But, as is the case with any industry, a degree of risk remains.

According to Safe Work Australia, fatalities in the mining industry decreased from 12.4 per 100,000 workers in 2003 to 2.4 per 100,000 in 2022. However, Despite the improvement on earlier years, the mining community can agree that 2.4 per 100,000 is still 2.4 too many.

While a fatal incident itself is often the focus of attention, what takes

place afterwards in the lives of those affected can be just as critical.

Surviving a workplace accident can leave people with physical injuries that may alter the trajectory of their lives, or the harder-to-spot scars like trauma and survivor’s guilt.

Brant Webb, one of the two men who survived the 2006 Beaconsfield mine collapse, knows all about those scars.

In a recent interview with Fairfax , Webb discussed his experience.

On Anzac Day 2006, Webb and 16 others were working at a gold mine in Beaconsfield, Tasmania, when a small earthquake triggered an underground rockfall.

While 14 workers escaped, Webb and fellow miner Todd Russell became

trapped, while another man, Larry Knight, tragically lost his life.

Webb and Russell spent a harrowing two weeks trapped 1km underground, sustained by a PVC pipe which rescuers used to deliver essential supplies to the pair.

After a complicated battle with trying underground conditions, both men were rescued.

During the ordeal, Russell sustained injuries to his knee and vertebra, while Webb injured both knees, several vertebrae, and his neck. But those bodily injuries were only part of the story. Reflecting on the incident, Webb said his rescue was only the beginning of a years long struggle with his physical and mental health.


The mining industry is going to great lengths to drive down safety incidents.

“You can’t do anything about it. You just have to deal with the feelings that you’re left with if you survive,” he said.

Webb described his ongoing battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD include severe anxiety, mood swings, uncontrollable thoughts about the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.

Webb said his most recent episode was triggered by the news of a mine collapse in Ballarat, Victoria, in March, which took the life of one miner and seriously injured another.

Particularly moving for Webb was the fact that the Ballarat man who lost his life was 37 years old, the same age as Webb when he underwent his own ordeal at Beaconsfield.

“It [the PTSD episode] only lasted about five minutes, but you can never tell when it’s going to hit you like that,” he said. “These blokes from the Ballarat mine will need to learn about all this, but first they’ve got to

The support of friends, family and the workplace can go a long way in recovering from trauma.

talk openly about their fears and their feelings. It’s really important.”

Webb passed on some advice given to him from his doctor that has helped him manage his own mental health over the years.

“He told me to gather my family and my close friends around me straight away and let it all out, to hold nothing back, and later he advised me to accept invitations to go on the speaking circuit. “I shared everything first with my wife, Rachel, and then everyone else. It helped a lot.”

Following the Beaconsfield incident, Webb became a Tasmanian ambassador for the Black Dog Institute, a research organisation for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

He shares his experiences with depression and anxiety in the hopes of helping others.

While this approach worked for Webb, trauma can affect different people in different ways.

To learn more about how trauma can manifest in the lives of individuals, Safe to Work sat down with Dr Kathy Kezelman.

Kezelman heads the Blue Knot Foundation, an organisation that provides specialist support services, research, and advocacy related to complex trauma. She is also deputy chair of the National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse.

“When it comes to trauma, you can’t generalise,” Kezelman said. “We’re all individuals and we all have a different make-up, different support structures around us and different experiences.

“But what we do know is that the impacts of trauma can last a long time.

“At Blue Knot, we work with people who experience interpersonal trauma; so violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. That journey can be very protracted unless people get the right support when they need it.”

Kezelman said trauma can be cumulative, affecting an individual’s ability to cope with future experiences.

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Workplace culture

“We’re all biologically wired with a survival response, and that fight, flight, freeze response is often heightened in people who have experienced trauma,” she said.

“Which means that when you’re exposed again, in either everyday stress or to traumatic events which can overwhelm your ability to cope, your nervous system is already on high alert.

“And so people who have some unresolved trauma often experience a nervous system where they’re either on high alert, agitated, readily triggered, or really withdrawn and shut down.

“And they can oscillate between those different spaces, finding it very hard to regulate those strong emotions.”

These underlying traumas can manifest in people’s personal lives and in the workplace.

“The very core of trauma is feeling unsafe physically as well as emotionally, because trauma means that you have been under threat or in danger,” Kezelman said.

“And so that heightened sense of feeling under threat can remain with you, affecting the way you engage with the world, the way you engage with yourself, and the way you engage with others.

“People who have a heightened nervous system can be reactive to others. They can feel like they’re not understood, they might find it hard to resolve conflict, or they may have trouble with interpersonal boundaries.”

While it is important for people who have experienced trauma to seek help, Kezelman warned family members and friends against being too heavy-handed.

“What happens when you’re traumatised is the thinking brain goes offline and it becomes very hard to make decisions and judge things,” she said. “It can be very hard to process trauma.

“So it’s about getting into a space in which you’re safe enough, stable enough and secure enough to be able to start to think through the trauma.

“That happens at different times for different people, and different people also have different ways of working through trauma and different ways that they find support, whether it’s working with the body or expressive arts or talk therapy or a combination of all of those things.”

Kezelman also said family and

“I think it’s very important for people to be there in a non-judgemental way to find out what the person needs in the moment, rather than trying to solve their problem,” she said.

“It’s about just being with someone and finding out what they need and walking alongside them through the journey, but then gently encouraging them to seek other supports as well.”

The mental health culture in the workplace also has an enormous role to play when it comes to managing trauma.

“Work can be stressful and demanding and, depending on the workplace culture, it can be very hard for people to show vulnerability to reach out and say, ‘Hey, I’m not feeling great’, and get the support they need,” Kezelman said.

Kezelman said a healthy workplace culture is one that is trauma-informed, providing a space for people to feel safe, heard, and not judged. A healthy workplace is one that understands that trauma is part of life’s journey for a lot of people.

“To be less judgmental and to be empathic and compassionate and offer support to people can be very pivotal

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Workplace accidents can leave people with physical and emotional wounds.

Material handling

Protecting your people

Providing a safer alternative to steel conveyor guards, Diacon’s signature yellow plastic mesh guarding is tried, tested and trusted in the material handling space.

As integral as they are to the success of many industrial operations, conveyor systems can be inherently dangerous. That’s why sites utilise conveyor guards to prevent people coming into contact with moving components of the system.

These guards are typically made from a steel frame with steel mesh, which tends to makes them bulky and heavy. Installation and removal can therefore be strenuous and time-consuming.

And in a harsh environment like an Australian mine site, steel experiences the full weight of the elements.

That’s why Diacon Australia has been producing a safe, tough and cost-effective alternative solution for well over 15 years.

Diacon’s high-density polyethylene (HDPE) conveyor guards are a lighter alternative to steel, which makes for easy transportation, storage and manual handling.

“The big thing about our Diacon guarding – it’s lightweight, it’s durable, it’s corrosion-free and it’s safe,” Diacon Australia general manager Matt Kennett told Safe to Work

“It’s the ease of use of our guards that ensures they are always installed correctly, preventing anyone from being pulled into or injured by the belt.”

Steel mesh guarding typically requires two or more workers to install or remove it, whereas handling Diacon plastic guarding is a one-person job.

This allows sites to focus labour elsewhere, limiting people’s exposure to potentially dangerous situations and saving maintenance costs. And given each unit is lighter than steel – usually no heavier than 15kg per segment – the risks associated with manual handling are significantly reduced.

“A feature of our guards is that the weight is permanently stamped into them,” Kennett said.

Diacon plastic guarding is also extremely durable, a feature the company has refined over the years since its debut in the Queensland sugar and coal mining industries.

“Unlike steel, plastic is corrosionfree; it doesn’t rust or need to be repainted,” Kennett said.

“Elements like sulphur in coal accelerates corrosion of steel and HDPE eliminates this from the equation.”

Images: Diacon Diacon guards are made from a high-density polyethylene, making them immune to rust.

Diacon’s plastic guarding can also resist the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) light, an invaluable feature when considering the fact conveyor systems often operate beneath the beating sun for years at a time. In fact, unlike any other guards on the market, Diacon guarding has a 15-year UV stable guarantee.

“Another benefit of our yellow plastic guarding is that it does not require painting,” Kennett said. “At the end of the day, guarding is made to keep people away from the conveyor system, so you want it to be highly visible.”

Diacon creates its lightweight plastic guarding at its facility in Mackay, Queensland, where the company continues to innovate with safety, cost-efficiency and durability in mind.

“We work with design houses to build our plastic guarding into new conveyor systems, and we also retrofit to existing conveyor systems,” Kennett said.

“We go out to sites and take a 3D scan of their belts and design our guarding to accurately suit that specific system.”

Kennett also touched on Diacon’s new ‘clear view’ option, which he said will provide mine sites with more options when it comes to guarding their conveyors.

From design to manufacturing to delivery, Diacon does it all. The company can conduct onsite installation or provide advice to customers who plan their own installation, which is made easy thanks to intuitive design.

“The guards are simple to install. They mount on custom-made bosses attached to brackets, and they have a unique slide-lock system that locks the guard into position, in accordance with Australian safety standards,” Kennett said.

The slide-lock mechanism is captive within the guard, so it can’t get lost or come free and fall, as conveyor belts are often high above ground.

When the guards are removed from the mounting system, they can actually be hung on a nearby handrail.

“When most workers see this for the first time, they think, ‘How easy is that?’, and it keeps the guard off the ground ensuring it doesn’t become a trip hazard, ” Kennett said.

Diacon’s plastic conveyor guarding is used in mining operations all over Australia, as well as in places like Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, New Caledonia and the UK. It can hold up against all types of material like coal, lithium, copper and salt in different climates.

While keeping people out of the conveyor system is critical, ensuring material stays on the belt is also important. That’s where Diacon’s hungry board system comes in.

Hungry boards are stainless steelreinforced plastic panels that are used to reduce spillage of product moving along the belt.

“Hungry boards run on the inside of the conveyor belt, helping with spillage control as product moves along the system,” Kennett said.

“It can also increase conveyor capacity by up to 30 per cent for short periods.”

Hungry boards share the same mounting brackets as Diacon’s

conveyor guards to streamline installation and maintenance. It also comes with the option of a hood system.

“Our hood system helps keep the dust inside the whole way up the conveyor,” Kennett said.

“It helps with dust suppression, which is very important for safety and equipment health, and to protect the product on the conveyor belt from the elements.”

With its plastic conveyor guarding and hungry board system, Diacon has a strong reputation for making conveyor systems safer and more efficient.

“Diacon has a lot of runs on the board. We were the first in Australia to develop plastic conveyor guarding, and we have the knowledge and experience of many years working with a diverse range of customers,” Kennett said.

“The biggest thing for us is making sure people go home to their families at the end of the day, safe and sound.

“Diacon Australia has set a new standard in conveyor guarding safety. Let us help you Diaconise your conveyor system.”

Diacon conveyor guards are bright yellow to improve visibility and safety.

Keeping things on track


It’s no revelation to point out the fact that most injuries on a mine site occur in or around vehicles.

For example, according to the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, the most common occurrence of injury on a mine site in 2022 was due to vehicle rollovers or falls from getting on or off a vehicle.

But as technology advances, so too do the efforts of mining companies to avoid such injuries.

To offset these types of risks, mining companies have been transitioning to autonomous control for vehicles, removing people from the proverbial line of fire. And nowhere has this trend taken off more than in rail operations.

Autonomous trains allow companies to easily ship thousands of tonnes of ore across vast swathes of country. And, somewhat ironically, their safety benefits are best demonstrated when accidents occur.

One recent example of these incidents occurred on February 11, when a self-driving Rio Tinto iron ore train derailed in the Pilbara. The accident, which involved over 35 wagons, took place about 120km from the Dampier Port in WA.

While the specific the cause of the derailment was known at the time of writing, the fact the incident involved no injuries – let alone fatalities – helps to highlight the value of autonomous machinery in creating a safer mining sector.

“AutoHaul [Rio’s autonomous system] is the world’s first heavyhaul, long-distance autonomous rail operation, which transports iron ore to Rio Tinto’s port facilities in the Pilbara region of WA,” a Rio spokesperson told Safe to Work.

“Our network includes about 200 locomotives on more than 1700km of track in the Pilbara.”

This accounts for more than 14,000 ore cars across the miner’s Pilbara rail network, with the company ordering an average of new 10 cars per year. Each of these cars can hold an estimated 118 tonnes of iron ore, making for a safe and extremely efficiency way to transport material.

These trains also traverse on private rails between mine sites and ports, typically well away from public infrastructure.

“AutoHaul improves safety by reducing risk at level crossings and through its automated responses to speed restrictions and alarms,” the Rio Tinto spokesperson said. “And it delivers productivity and environmental benefits by using information about the train and rail network topography to calculate and deliver a safe, consistent driving strategy.”

Rio Tinto has seen only a handful of derailments since 2019, including one in June 2023 and one in September 2022.

Material handling SAFETOWORK.COM.AU 14 MAY-JUN 2024

All incidents have reported no injuries or loss of life. And, importantly, none of these derailments have been linked back to the trains’ autonomous nature.

In the June 2023 derailment, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator determined that the automated train safety functions were

operating as needed at the time of the incident. A track fault is believed to be the cause of that derailment.

A similar case occurred in December 2023 when a Fortescueowned autonomous train derailed in WA, with the miner losing iron ore supply to its port operations for

four days following the incident. An investigation found extreme heat –which the Bureau of Meteorology clocked at 49.3°C – caused the track to buckle, leading to the derailment. Fortunately, there was no one on board or in the surrounding area at the time, which meant no injuries.

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Autonomous trains are keeping workers out of harm’s way.
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Mining railways cut through some of the most remote land in Australia.

Material handling


Automation helps to reduce some of the risks associated with human error, which can be compounded when dealing with something as potentially hazardous as a train.

In an incident in late 2018, BHP lost control of a fully loaded 42,500-tonne, 2.86km iron ore train in the Pilbara.

The train was being operated by a single driver on BHP’s Newman–Port Hedland railway, about 211km from its destination, when an inter-car connector separated, severing train line communications between the lead locomotive and the ore cars toward the end of the train. This initiated an automated emergency brake application, stopping the train on a downhill grade.

Sixty minutes after the train stopped and before the driver was able to secure enough of the ore cars’ handbrakes, the affected car’s control shut down devices were released on the majority of the ore cars in the train.

The train then began to roll away without the driver on board. It travelled more than 90km over approximately 40 minutes before BHP’s Hedland control intentionally derailed it at a crossover.

The driver luckily escaped injury, but 245 ore cares and 2km of track infrastructure were destroyed.

“A train runaway can cause injury or loss of life and while there were no injuries as a result of this accident, it did carry a significant financial and economic cost,” Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the safety procedures for the train were very specific and the driver did not complete a single critical action: placing the automatic brake handle in the pneumatic emergency position.

“This safety-critical action relied extensively on the driver’s memory, and the investigation found there were limited processes in place to facilitate or cross-check a driver completing key safety-critical actions,” Mitchell said.

The derailment sparked the debate over increased train automation in the mining industry, a movement Rio Tinto was quick to pilot.

Autonomous trains are packed with intelligent safety features to mitigate the risks of an accident, such as a derailment.

Principal engineer of Rio’s AutoHaul project Lido Costa referred to trains

Image: Adwo/
Ore trains can be over 2km long.

as giant autonomous robots because, they make all the decisions once they are set on their course.

“There is a train controller at the operations centre in Perth who sets the route,” Costa said. “But once it’s running, the on-board computers and the computers at the operations centre take over and it makes its own decisions.

“The network of computer makes sure the train keeps to the speed limit, makes sure it doesn’t run into other trains or other trains don’t run into it, makes sure there’s nothing obstructing the level crossings.

“And there are a whole lot of other devices in place to protect people and equipment. For instance, if one of the wheels has a fault, the train will be bought to a stop. Or if one of the couplers in the train is broken, the system will pick it up and stop the train.”

“Automation helps to reduce some of the risks associated with human error, which can be compounded when dealing with something as potentially hazardous as a train.”

“In a manual system, every time one driver ends their shift and another comes on board the train needs to stop,” he said. “On a typical journey a train will stop three times, adding more than an hour to the journey.

If we can prevent those stoppages, we can keep the network ticking over, allowing more ore to be transported to the ports and shipped off more efficiently.”

Considering safety from another angle, Costa said that automated trains remove the need to for Rio Tinto to transport drivers 1.5 million kilometres each year to and from trains in remote places such the Pilbara.

“This high-risk activity is something that driverless trains will largely reduce,” he said.

No system is perfect, and accidents do occur. However, automated trains are shaping up to be the future of moving material in the mining industry, particularly in countries as vast as Australia.

Another major benefit is the elimination of driver shift changes.

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“The time-saving benefit is enormous because the train network is a core part of the mining operation.

Driverless trains on private railways are keeping workers and the public out of harm’s way, while enabling more efficient transportation of ore and minerals.

Bulk material conveyor systems should always be designed to provide technicians with access points to inspect belt conditions and address issues as needed. Unfortunately, this consideration is often overlooked.

Many setups require workers to crouch or crawl under the system or even enter a confined space, which can result in serious injuries. Inspection of the system needs to be fast, easy and safe.

Our small inspection hatches are designed for observation. Larger doors, after following proper lock-out/tag-out safety procedures, allow for appropriate service of specific wear parts.

Material handling

Smart cleaners creating good vibrations


Conveyor systems are the backbone of mining operations, and that’s why proper upkeep is critical.

Conveyor belt tears and other possible malfunctions can lead to costly damages and delays, not to mention create safety hazards for workers. But given these machines typically function independently, it can be hard to know when something goes awry without keeping a constant eye out.

That’s exactly why Flexco created Flexco Elevate, which monitors the performance of the conveyor cleaner and acts as a belt-healthdetection device.

Flexco digital product manager for Elevate Travis Vliem compared Elevate to a ‘check engine’ light for conveyor systems.

“In addition to monitoring cleaner performance, Elevate detects major vibrations and similar stressors in the conveyor system that can lead to failures,” he told Safe to Work.

“We have had incidents where our customers have avoided 70m belt tears because Elevate was able to warn them early that something was wrong.”

Elevate is a fully self-contained device that attaches to belt cleaners. In other words, power, sensor array, and communication capabilities are all contained within a single package.

And over-the-air software updates make Elevate an investment that continually evolves.

“We have machine-learning analytics on our models, so they can be tuned to the specifics of the conveyor and the specifics of the cleaner,” Vliem said.

Elevate monitors the performance of the conveyor cleaner and acts as a belt-health-detection device.

“You’ll be transmitting data as soon as it’s installed.”

Conveyor performance data is transmitted in real-time to a dashboard that can be accessed on any mobile phone, computer or tablet, which means people can monitor the system from the comfort of an office.

“Remote monitoring means that workers don’t have to walk the length of the conveyor on a hot day or open up a head chute when an inspection may not even be needed,” Vliem said.

“Elevate allows them to save that trip and focus their efforts on places where there are known issues.”

Conveyor systems can be quite long, so sparing workers unnecessary inspections helps protect them from the effects of heat and fatigue, while also reducing the risks of trips, slips and falls.


Optimising workers’ time in such a way in turn helps to minimise time spent around conveyor belts, which can be hazardous.

“Elevate saves time, improves operational efficiency and minimises risk,” Vliem said.

And by ensuring the conveyor cleaner is running effectively, Elevate is helping prevent the accumulation of harmful carryback material.

“On the return side of the conveyor – whether that be the idlers, return rollers, or the structure itself –carryback accumulates like little ant hills,” Vliem said. “In a worst-case scenario, a worker is going to have to enter that confined space and shovel out the material.

“Mine sites know that if you can avoid having someone with a shovel in their hands slinging dirt, you should try do that no matter what.”

On top of its safety benefits, Elevate is also making maintenance more approachable than ever.

“As conveyors become more advanced and sophisticated, the workforce is having to match that in stride,” Vliem said. “The older generations are the experts in conveyors, and as they move into retirement we’re finding that the new

generations don’t quite have the same skillset. Elevate also allows for easier learning, as well as better monitoring for those who haven’t had as much exposure to conveyors.

SAFETOWORK.COM.AU 19 MAY-JUN 2024 Images: Flexco
Elevate is a self-contained device that will start transmitting critical data the moment it’s installed. Flexco Elevate is making conveyor maintenance more approachable than ever.

Bigger, safer, better


When it comes to a successful mining operation, it all boils down to how much, how efficiently, and how safely material can be moved.

Epiroc has carved a legacy in the mining industry because its products embody these three pillars of success, and the Minetruck MT65 S and Scooptram ST18 S are no exception.


With a load capacity of 65 tonnes, the Minetruck MT65 S is purpose-built for larger underground mining operations.

It has the highest payload of vehicles in Epiroc’s portfolio and, thanks to the updated drivetrain, the machine enjoys higher speeds when going up ramp and downhill, increasing the number of cycles per shift. In fact, testing shows the Minetruck MT65 S is 18 per cent more productive than the preceding model. Despite the increase to speed and productivity, the machine consumes roughly five per cent less fuel. With a typical operational life of more than

a decline, the system will review the ground speed, the tonnage the machine is carrying, the inclination that it’s operating on and a number of other parameters, and will automatically reduce speed if required.”

operating limits.

Hill-descent assist utilises the MT65 S’s hydraulic retarder for majority of the braking control, which means there are no mechanical components that can wear out.

to its autonomous capabilities,

handling SAFETOWORK.COM.AU 20 MAY-JUN 2024
Thanks the Scooptram ST18 S can access zones of a mine that are too hazardous for workers. A 65-tonne load capacity makes the MT65 S the biggest in Epiroc’s fleet.

“Hill-descent assist applies the hydraulic brakes when needed, which, from a serviceability perspective, maximises the brake life,” Kings said.

“But from a safety perspective, we now no longer have someone that could be potentially needing to ride the brakes, generating excessive heat and essentially driving the machine in too high a gear to safely traverse a decline.”

The Minetruck MT65 S also has semi-automated brake testing, which takes place during an operator’s pre-start check. This is historically a manual process, but with the MT65 S the machine takes the lead.

“The truck will direct the operator to put their foot on the brake, move the throttle, and so on,” Kings said.

“Meanwhile, the machine is going through and doing all its


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different testing. The idea of this is that it removes human error and standardises pre-start checks on such a critical part of the machine.”

The Minetruck MT65 S also has a number of other features such as automatic testing of the brake system each time the park brake is released, one-pedal drive for operator comfort, and an in-built speed limiter that can be tailored to a site’s needs.

Typical speed limiters work by locking higher gears, but this is not the case with the Minetruck MT65 S, which can still reach higher gears when necessary, helping to maximise vehicle performance and fuel efficiency.

The Minetruck MT65 S utilises Epiroc’s rig control system (RCS), which enables simple integration of a collision avoidance system and other

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Material handling

technologies that communicate on protocol J1939. This flexibility allows mine sites to truly get the most out of the MT65 S.


The Scooptram ST18 S is Epiroc’s 18-tonne loader for underground operations. Excellent digging ability and high-lifting design make this machine an ideal companion to the Minetruck MT65 S.

Packed with familiar safety functions like semi-automatic brake testing and an in-built speed limiter, the Scooptram ST18 S is designed to be as safe as it is capable.

Kings said the Scooptram really shines with its autonomous capabilities.

“The Scooptram ST18 S can be set up with Epiroc’s automation package,

allowing the machine to be operated from a safe position, whether that be down at the working level or from the surface,” he said.

“This allows mines to send machines into zones that you wouldn’t want to send a worker into, such as open stopes, areas where there is a risk of inrush, rill swell, or unknown conditions.

“On top of that, automation also spares operators from other hazards like vibration and noise.”

The Scooptram ST18 S is dieselpowered, but also comes in a batterypowered model called the Scooptram ST18 SG. These electric models help mine sites drive down carbon emissions and diesel particulate matter.

Working in parallel with the automated Scooptram is Epiroc’s

on-site safety system, which employs light barriers to cordon off the automation area.

“Light curtains separate the area where the autonomous machines are operating,” Kings said.

“If the machine should break a light curtain, it will shut down, the brakes will come on, and it won’t be able to start again until that breach is resolved.

“By the same token, if a pedestrian breaches the light curtain, the vehicles will similarly shut off.”

Intelligent features like this have always set Epiroc apart. The Minetruck MT65 S and Scooptram ST18 S are paragons of safety and production excellence, forming the backbone of underground mining operations all across Australia and the world.

The Minetruck MT65 S features a completely new electrical system and more protected component location.






Material handling

What’s stopping your conveyor?


Essential to many mining operations, conveyor systems allow the transport of thousands of tonnes of ore across vast distances, or up and out of underground mines, every hour. But because these machines rarely stop, maintenance of their brakes can be unintentionally overlooked.

“Ideally, a conveyor braking system is limited to use during maintenance operations. Only when overspeed conditions, overload conditions or mechanical failures occur do brakes come into play,” Johnson Industries chief executive officer Lawrence Johnson told Safe to Work.

When the need arises to halt a conveyor, mine sites want to know that their brake systems will be up to the task.

Johnson Industries’ brake systems can be found at mine sites across Australia in conveyor systems, ball mills, and semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mills. They can also be found in rail-based ore transport systems in the form of wheel grippers, and in many general crane applications. The company has grown its expertise for over a century in the US, and is now expanding into the Australian market.

Johnson Industries offers multiple types of brake products. Most are spring-applied (fail safe), but some are available with hydraulic and spring actuation for use as service brakes.

Multiple actuating technologies are available: hydraulic, pneumatic, electrohydraulic, magnetic, and of course, hand operated. These brakes are largely designed for use with discs; however, drum brakes are available for smaller applications.

Hydraulic brakes can be ordered with power units, electrohydraulic brakes with proportional control units, and magnetic brakes with power management units for minimum power consumption and maximum surge protection at run time.

A limited number of hydraulically and/or electrically actuated service brakes are available with self-adjusting mechanisms to maintain the correct air gap between pads and disc. With a properly fitted self adjuster, machines can run for longer without requiring maintenance owing to reduced brake torque as pads wear.

Designing to maximise the time between maintenance operations is a critical part of quality. Direct-acting (DS) brakes have removable actuators, permitting shoe and/or actuator replacement without the removal of the entire brake movement. Lever brakes offer the same feature and benefit.

A distinction can also be drawn between service and parking or emergency brakes.

Generally, self-adjusting mechanisms are not included on parking or emergency brakes, as braking surfaces do not wear very quickly. This does not excuse the requirement for periodic inspections and maintenance.

“An automobile parked for year or more will likely have difficulty starting and running, but if driven daily it will probably function with little or no service required. It’s the same with industrial brakes,” Johnson said.

“Accidents occur if equipment is not maintained, even if not in regular use.”

Johnson Industries offers support in the form of recurring check-ups and training to ensure proper brake function. Written manuals with detailed maintenance procedures are included with all brakes.

On request, the company will provide maintenance seminars, on-site installation supervision, and start-up support. Inspections, adjustments, and maintenance services are also available.

Johnson Industries
Mine sites depend on their conveyor brake systems to perform at critical moments.

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Material handling

From the outside


The wear liner on a belt conveyor transfer point is essentially considered a sacrificial layer.

Removal and replacement is a gruelling job that could require multiple workers and days of scheduled downtime. Conventional wear liners have historically been installed inside the chute, but modern

designs are placed on the outside, improving skirtboard sealing and preventing spillage.

The Confined spaces code of practice, an approved code under section 274 of Australia’s Work Health and Safety Act of 2011, is explicit regarding the dangers of confined spaces, mandating that an “authorised entrant” perform work inside the

chute. An attendant must also stand outside to monitor the safety of the person inside while assisting in the removal of material from the chute. In some cases, a supervisor further oversees the procedure.

The goal of the external design is to significantly cut installation and service time while reducing risk and improving safety. The result is excellent performance with fewer labour hours, no certification for maintenance requirement, and a lower cost of operation.


Previous designs securely welded the wear liner to the inside of the chute, with only the skirt seal located on the outside. The logic behind this conventional design is for the wear liner to protect the skirtboard, which is typically 0.63cm sheet metal and not strong enough to withstand the sustained force and abrasion from bulk material.

Martin Engineering designers instead came up with the idea of raising the chute work about 10.16cm above the belt, out of the way of the material, then putting the wear liner on the outside.

This approach means the material still hits the liner and doesn’t damage the chute.

After elevating the chute box above the material flow, a 0.95cm or 1.27cm abrasion-resistant liner plate (AR500) is mounted on the outside of the chute, followed by the skirt seal.

Mounting brackets with jackscrews provides a tight hold, with precision adjustment of the wear liner to reduce spillage. This system closes the gap between the liner and the sealer, thus eliminating abrasion from trapped material without interfering with existing supports.

Images: Martin Engineering
Confined space entry can be very dangerous and requires a permit.

When accompanied by skirting and clamps, the system forms a tight belt seal, delivering outstanding fugitive material control.


When a conventional wear liner loses its edge, the replacement procedure is what operators describe as an undesirable maintenance assignment. The authorised entrant would go into the chute with a grinder to remove the welds and the sacrificial liner, which may have required a torch to cut away existing material.

This can be extremely dangerous for two reasons.

Firstly, the liner can weigh more than 100kg, and when cut loose it can fall and endanger the people in the confined space of the chute.

Secondly, nearly any dust can be explosive under the right conditions, and having to grind or torch-cut the old liner introduces a spark or open flame. Some companies thoroughly wash out the chute prior to entry to avoid any chance of combustible particulates, making the job even more time-consuming.

An external liner can be installed and adjusted faster and easier, without the need for a grinder or torch, through the use of special mounting tabs.

Clips for bolting the liner are initially welded in place but do not require removal when the liner wears out. Since work is done from the outside, without any grinding sparks or torch flame, the hazard of explosive dust from tool usage is greatly reduced.

Replacement liners come in a standard length of 182.9cm and Martin Engineering uses laser cutting technology to create the complex geometries necessary for a custom fit.

The new liner is easily retrofitted onto existing equipment – installers simply cut back the chute wall to accommodate the external wear liner.

On new installations, the chute is easily engineered to work with the new liner design, as well as other Martin Engineering components such as dust curtains, track-mounted idlers and cradles.


An ArcelorMittal port terminal in the US state of Indiana was experiencing excessive spillage, tail-pulley fouling and belt tracking issues with a petroleum coke transfer point on the stacker/reclaimer boom conveyor.

Material spilled from the sides of the chute and piled onto the floor, creating a hazard that required workers to be reassigned from other

duties several times per month to clean, increasing labour costs. Moreover, the spillage was getting onto the return side of the belt and fouling the tail pulley, causing loading and tracking issues.

Operators attempted to remedy the situation by having a new transfer chute built.

However, once installed, operators realised the problem was not with the

The external wear liner and skirting system improve safety, maintenance costs and equipment life. Safety by design helps avoid crossing the plane of the conveyor to perform maintenance.

Material handling

vertical chute but the loading zone and settling zone equipment. These were onerous and time-consuming to service, requiring a maintenance team with confined space entry permits, extending downtime and diverting staff from other tasks.

The managers invited Martin Engineering to examine the issue and offer solutions. After conducting a thorough ‘walk the belt’ procedure, technicians installed external wear liners, ApronSeal double skirting HD (heavy-duty), Trac-Mount idlers, upper and lower trackers, and a V-plow.

The wear liner protects the chute wall against punishing material, as the double skirting forms a seal that rides lightly on the belt, keeping fines from escaping. The wear liners and skirts are externally mounted for safe and easy maintenance, with no confined space entry required.

To retain a true belt path, technicians installed upper and lower tracking technology and 35° idlers that slide out for faster one-person maintenance. To protect the tail pulley, a V-plow was installed to deflect fugitive material on the belt return.

Three Martin technicians and six contractors completed the installation project over two shifts (12 hours and 14 hours). The chute was tested several times and adjusted until the proper trough angle and belt seal were achieved.

After several boatloads, the customer reported that “not a single pellet has hit the deck”.

Along with a near-complete elimination of spillage, operators said the tracking issues were resolved and the tail pulley has had no incidents of fouling from return side debris.

Retrofitting the transfer chute with updated equipment improves system performance with no required certification for maintenance, which reduces the number of workers and hours to replace and service, in turn lowering the cost of operation.

Dual skirting design runs the length of the chute and can be flipped for extended life. Mechanical air cleaners are low maintenance and improve the air quality around the system.

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A fitter’s best friend


Safety and operational efficiency are closely linked.

Workplace accidents can affect morale, put people out of work, and halt operations. Conversely, safety innovations in the workplace protect workers and keep the wheels of operation turning.

And, in many instances, safety technology can improve operational efficiency by making work smoother and safer.

This is precisely the function of Nivek Industries’ new larger Tracked Elevating Device – Big TED, for short.

Big TED, which can lift and hold up to three tonnes of equipment, helps to make maintenance on mining vehicles safer and easier for workers.

The functional design of the Big TED helps make the difficult, dangerous, time-consuming task of undertaking heavy component replacement or repair a thing of the past.

“With Big TED, you don’t need a crane or a forklift. Big TED will

carry the load, lift it, and hold it in place while equipment is installed or uninstalled,” Nivek general manager Derrick Cant told Safe to Work

With its highly responsive joystickactivated remote control, Big TED is taking on the manual handling aspect of maintenance work, protecting workers from related injuries.

Remote control also means workers can keep clear while heavy components are being moved or lifted into position.

The drive system on the Big TED comprises two independent 3.5kW infinite control electric drive motors, packing enough torque to ensure heavy loads can be carried across various types of terrain.

The 24VDC 448Ah rechargeable battery system provides at least two hours of continuous operation.

Big TED also features a built-in side shift and powered turntable, which means workers don’t have to manually handle the load when lining up bolts.

A tilt sensor reduces the risk of overbalancing, and load cells incorporated into the table notify operators of overloading.

Big TED also features dual emergency stops on the machine and remote control, which means it can come to a halt with the push of a button.

All of these features come together to create a machine that reduces manual handling, removes workers from the line of fire, and makes overall maintenance far more efficient.

Nivek’s customers are enjoying faster maintenance times with Big TED, the company said, allowing better turnaround on vital machinery for mine sites.

“Anything that is less physically demanding on an employee is going to translate to a safer workplace and minimal downtime,” Cant said.

“They’re saving so much time for the operators out there. We’ve heard that already our customers are seeing an increase in safety and efficiency;

Material handling
The Nivek team can design and build attachments for Big TED to suit any need.

they’re just really happy with the quality and the benefits of Big TED.”

One area in which Big TED truly shines is its versatility, helping customers meet their specific maintenance requirements. Big TED can be fitted with a range of attachments to carry just about anything.

Attachments can be designed for applications such as haul truck front hub and brake discs, drill rig fuel tanks, front loader belly plates, and grader tyres, to name a few.

And what Nivek Industries doesn’t already offer, it custom designs and builds at the request of its customers.

“The true value of Big TED is in the attachments, which allow it to do multiple tasks. It’s a versatile machine you can use every day for different jobs,” Cant said.

“If you need something that can tilt a component to a certain angle or roll something into a certain position, we can build that into the attachment.”

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Whether mine sites are looking to improve worker safety or improve maintenance turnaround, Big TED can help.

Images: Nivek Industries Big TED is keeping workers safe during maintenance.

Material handling

Safety from the ground up


Bulk material handling systems serve to connect mine and market, so operations understandably go to great lengths to ensure the associated equipment is properly maintained.

And while it’s important to keep this machinery running effectively, the safety of the workers maintaining it is always paramount.

TAKRAF Group, a global provider of equipment, systems and services to the mining and associated industries, marries safety with performance to transform maintenance.

“Based on the understanding that traditional maintenance approaches can often be unsafe or inefficient, we address maintenance requirements and the risks associated right from the start during the engineering of

a technology,” TAKRAF Group chief executive officer, Thomas Jabs told Safe to Work.

“We believe, as mining statistics worldwide show, that increasing efficiency and improving safety are two sides of the same coin; a safer mine is, in fact, a more productive one.”


When it comes to material handling, perhaps no piece of equipment is as central to the process as the conveyor. These units can stretch for kilometres, with thousands of idlers required to support the weight of the belt and its load.

With so many moving parts, it’s critical that sites are able to safely and efficiently maintain a conveyor system

in order to avoid costly downtime and hazards such as fires and belt tears.

“Conducting maintenance on belt conveyors – especially on steep slopes, in tunnels or on elevated structures – is a challenge for all parties involved,” Jabs said.

“The belt needs to be lifted and the idlers, with a single part weight of about 50 kg or more, replaced.

“Steep slopes make it almost impossible for the maintenance crew to even reach an area, never mind actually working safely.

“And the issue of space really becomes critical in tunnels, where space is very limited and the work has to be conducted manually.”

To combat these challenges, TAKRAF introduced its maintenance cart for conveyor systems, making it

A TAKRAF maintenance cart in action on a conveyor system at an important copper mine in North America.

possible to access any location along the conveyor belt quickly and safely.

“Our maintenance cart is equipped with a number of clever solutions that enable the safe and efficient replacement of idlers in less than 15 minutes,” Jabs said. “The cart is equipped with a belt-lifting device that safely lifts the belt away from the idler in need of replacement.

“The handling of idlers is supported by a small service crane, with idlers being attached to the crane by means of a special tool.”

TAKRAF has employed this system at mine sites around the world, including at a major copper mine in North America. The mine site was struggling with maintenance along its 5km downhill conveyor, which includes a 1km section with a steep 26 per cent decline.

Utilising TAKRAF’s maintenance cart, the site was able to safely and efficiently access and maintain this challenging section.

TAKRAF equipment is built with safety at heart from the outset. Where possible, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) designs solutions to remove or isolate the equipment from operation during maintenance.

An excellent example of this ethos is TAKRAF’s unique chute concept, which makes it possible to stay outside of the chute at all times during maintenance.

“Accidents can occur while replacing a chute liner, resulting from a range of risks like falling material, falling from heights, unstable support, unsafe handling of tools and equipment, working within a confined space, and even internal welding,” Jabs said.

“TAKRAF’s unique concept allows workers to stay outside of the chute at all times during maintenance work.”

A ground-up safety design means the lip liner and wear plates are externally accessible, while it’s also possible to employ ultrasonic measurement of liner thickness and wear from outside the chute to allow for planned maintenance.

This not only keeps workers safe from the typical risks associated with chute maintenance, Jabs said, but significantly reduces downtime from an eight-hour shift to just 60 minutes.


Flexibility is another important aspect of TAKRAF’s design.

“TAKRAF equipment is designed to provide alternative maintenance concepts that foresee multiple conditions in order to align to the safest and most efficient way possible,” Jabs said.

“Our X-TREME class sizer is an excellent example of this philosophy, as it was designed with a high level of maintenance flexibility in mind.

“For example, the sizer provides for maximum flexibility in machine dismantling, from replacing each tooth (pick) or segment radially in any position to replacing entire rolls or the entire sizer.

“Every component of the X-TREME class sizer has been designed to reduce downtime and ensure that the machine is brought back into production as soon as possible, using our quick-release system.”

TAKRAF is also harnessing the power of digitisation to make its equipment smarter and safer.

Intelligent machine control systems, data collection, and augmented reality (AR) technologies are helping sites get the most out of their TAKRAF equipment.

“By harnessing the power of Industry 4.0, TAKRAF Group is making the benefits of data, automation and connectivity available to its customers to drive profitability, efficiency and, most importantly, safety,” Jabs said.

“For example, developments such as IIoT [Industrial Internet of Things] devices and sensors that collect realtime data enable remote monitoring and predictive maintenance, while AR is revolutionising maintenance processes by providing immersive experiences that allow workers to receive real-time guidance.”

TAKRAF is using innovative and safety-conscious design to make material handling safer and more efficient than ever.

“The way of traditional thinking has us believe that the increased demand for safety leads to more complicated and time-consuming maintenance work,” Jabs said.

“At TAKRAF Group, we firmly believe that increased safety does not have to come at the cost of maintenance efficiency and can, in fact, improve it.”

A TAKRAF specialist wearing smart glasses that can connect experts in the office with field staff.

Versatile lifting solutions


As one of world’s leading suppliers of material handling systems, Vacuworx has spent decades engineering and manufacturing heavyduty lifting equipment for use in the mining, oil and gas, heavy construction industries, and many others.

Recent decades have seen vacuum lifting become recognised as the perhaps safest approach to pipe handling, thanks to its ability to reduce risk to workers and improve efficiencies for companies. This method has been widely adopted and evolved alongside the use of corrosion-resistant bonded pipeline coatings commonly used to protect products.

Vacuum lifting technology doesn’t damage materials or bonded coatings and eliminates the need for cribbing and spacers for pipes.

Utilising Vacuworx lifting systems can eliminate costly repairs that occur when handling pipe by other methods such as slings or chains.

With operations spanning the world, Vacuworx has a truly global reach. The company offers a comprehensive and diverse range of vacuum lifting systems and equipment. These systems are designed to tackle a wide range of tasks and applications across manufacturing, construction, and infrastructure projects.


Compared to conventional lifting methods, Vacuworx said the advantages of its suite of qualified

“With Vacuworx, efficiencies are maximised, while the amount of direct contact workers have with materials like pipes, concrete and steel plates is limited,” the company said.

Currently engaged in two consecutive projects involving water transmission at a coal mine in Moranbah, Queensland, Pipeline Assets Australia managing director Dale Stephan is no stranger to Vacuworx lifters and the benefits they offer to owners and operators.

“Vacuum lifting has been a gamechanger for us,” Stephan said.

“The Vacuworx system has again proven to be a positive addition to our projects. Once personnel were trained, its effectiveness matches, if not exceeds, that of traditional pipe handling methods, but at a lower cost with safer working conditions.”

MAY-JUN 2024 Material handling
Images: Vacuworx
Vacuworx supplies its lifting solutions to a range of heavy industries, such as mining and oil and gas. Vacuworx lifting systems can eliminate costly repairs that occur when handling pipe by other methods such as slings or chains.

project in Moranbah includes the installation of a backbone pipeline to streamline water transportation within the mine, supporting dewatering activities and improving water infrastructure.

“From our perspective, the efficiencies gained through Vacuworx are undeniable, and we foresee its continued use in our operations,” Stephan said.

“Our clients are happy from a safety perspective and, for us, it improves our operations.

“The [Vacuworx] equipment can be interchanged rapidly, which is crucial in our fluid environment where timing and transportation hiccups are common in the industry.

“Delays in truck arrivals can result in significant costs, with personnel waiting on standby and intervals between deliveries causing disruptions. However, with Vacuworx we are able to ensure that when the trucks arrive we can get to work straight away.

“On this project, we’re installing 18km of large-bore HDPE [highdensity polyethylene] pipe, which is a significant undertaking, so every minute counts.”


According to Vacuworx, vacuum lifting allows for faster load and unload cycles with less downtime than conventional methods since there are no slings and chains to hook and unhook.

In addition, the need for fewer ground workers helps to reduce the risk of accidents.

Vacuworx’s adaptability in the field and its ability to eliminate the need for personnel in high-risk areas, such as riggers and crane operators in drop zones, are significant driving factors its

adoption. Its use also reduces safety risks associated with personnel on the ground during operations.

Vacuworx Australia managing director Luis Guevara underscored the importance of prioritising safety in material handling.

“Our customers secure contracts based on their lifting methodologies utilising our machines simply because it’s so much safer and faster,” he said.

“It requires less personnel to load, unload or string pipe without having to climb on pipes and trucks and stand under the pipe, and there is no damage to the pipe coating.

“Owners and contractors are looking for safer and more efficient material handling solutions in all industries. The main focus of Vacuworx has always been to prioritise people’s safety by offering a safer way to handle and move materials.

“Utilising the Vacuworx line of equipment provides the operator with the confidence of knowing that they are using the latest technology to provide a safe work environment for themselves as well as their co-workers.”

While Vacuworx’s expertise began with pipes, the company now takes pride in serving a diverse range of industries. Lifters can be attached to excavators, wheel or track loaders, cranes, pipe-layers and forklifts, and can be customised to accommodate a variety of applications and lifting needs.

Vacuworx’s commitment to quality and innovation has earned the company its reputation as a global leader in vacuum lifting equipment.

Vacuum lifting allows for faster load and unload cycles with less downtime.

Striking a new bargain


Multi-enterprise bargaining laws were significantly modified in June 2023 via the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Amendment to the Fair Work Act

Following those changes, a coal mining union announced in January it would be the first in Australia to put new multi-enterprise bargaining laws to the test.

Anthony Longland, employment law specialist and partner at independent law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, broke down the changes and what they mean in his three-part series of reports, ‘Ready or not, here it comes: Bargaining under Secure Jobs, Better Pay’. Longland said the amendments represent the most significant changes to Australia’s bargaining system since the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

“The changes usher in a fundamental shift in the bargaining dynamic, leading to an alteration of power between employers and employees in many respects,” he said.

But what does it all mean?

Enterprise bargaining is the process of negotiating a legal agreement that sets out minimum employment terms and conditions.

This typically covers things like rates of pay, penalty rates, overtime, standard hours, leave, allowances, deductions, etc. Negotiations generally take place between the employer or employers, and their employees and their bargaining representatives, usually unions.

A multi-enterprise agreement (MEA), on the other hand, is negotiated among multiple employers and their workforces.

Recent amendments are designed to make multi-enterprise bargaining easier, as employers with ‘common interests’ (eg coal producers in NSW) may now be covered by the one MEA.

In other words, whole swathes of an industry (related by geography, regulatory framework, nature of the work, etc) are to be covered by the same contractual terms.

Questions are being asked over the future implications of MEA bargaining.

“It gives employees –or rather, in most cases, unions acting on their behalf – significantly expanded abilities to compel employers into the statutory bargaining scheme, including by forcing competitors to engage in multi-employer bargaining against their will,” Longland said.

“This presents a challenge to direct engagement models, reducing the scope for operational flexibility and potentially stifling innovation across sectors. That is, where it is adopted, it will inevitably result in a one-sizefits all outcome that favours industrial uniformity over creativity, productivity and results.”

The Fair Work Commission has also been vested with the power to compel employers to the bargaining table, resolve MEA bargaining disputes through arbitration, and add common interest employers to a preexisting MEA.

“By empowering the Fair Work Commission to intervene in bargaining by imposing arbitrated outcomes on

SAFETOWORK.COM.AU 36 MAY-JUN 2024 Industrial relations
Image: Sunshine Seeds/

is reduced incentive to give ground or make concessions in bargaining,” Longland said.

“This increases the risk of being in bargaining where you could end up with an outcome that undermines or fails to properly take account of the industrial realities of your operations. This is because it will be imposed by a third party with no accountability for the success of those operations.”

There is also some concern that MEA bargaining could lead to industrywide strikes.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive officer Tania Constable expressed concern over the future implications of MEA bargaining.

“The question remains whether this … will cause irreversible damage to the economy and undermine the nation’s future economic growth and prosperity,” she said.

“Australia is already beginning to see the damage flowing from previous industrial relations changes, where businesses are opting to make investments outside of Australia, and the first mining companies are now facing being roped into multiemployer bargaining.”

In the present matter taking place on NSW coal mines, the Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association (a coal mining union) has launched a bid for a multiemployer agreement across five mine sites owned by different employers.

minimum standards across our industry lifted and key conditions like redundancy and accident pay standardised across the mining sector,” Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association director Catherine Bolger told the Australian Financial Review when the bid was launched.

“That’s good news for workers and good news for employers, as employees will be able to move between mining operations with greater ease and flexibility than is currently the case.

“With the current shortage in specialist mining skills, employers will also benefit from having greater access to a skilled and more mobile workforce.”

The proposed agreement covers some 216 statutory supervisors, without whom a mine is not legally allowed to operate.

Though the agreement will seek a pay rise for workers, the main conditions concern the payment of leave on termination, redundancy pay, accident pay, and the payout of annual and long service leave at a total salary rate.

Since the bid was announced, one of the participating mines has been forced to shut its doors, though it remains to be seen whether testing an MEA at the operation was a contributing factor.

Either way, the Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association bid is one to keep an eye on as the new laws kick into gear.

SAFETOWORK.COM.AU 37 MAY-JUN 2024 Image: Evgeny_V/ Image: Jaromir Chalabala/
Recent amendments are designed to make multienterprise bargaining easier. Multi-enterprise bargaining laws were significantly modified in June 2023.

Communication when and where you need it



Communication is key – it’s as true on a mine site as it is in everyday life.

Effective communication not only plays an enormous role in operational success, but also in the safety of the people working on-site.

But mine sites are highly dynamic environments, and that means there is no silver bullet solution when it comes to effective communication technology.


Mine sites have an increasing need for data services such as video, access to online tools and databases, and the ability to upload and download large data items.

These tasks typically need a higher bandwidth than traditional narrowband systems such as terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) systems can deliver, and require broadband data services such as LTE (long-term evolution).

But when it comes to delivering mission-critical communication, direct mode operation, and end-toend encryption, LTE does not yet offer equivalent performance to TETRA, which is the tried-and-true means of communication.

Fortunately for the mining industry, Sepura is bridging the gap between the reliability of TETRA and the modern bells and whistles of LTE with the SCU3 dual-mode device.

“Organisations are increasingly looking for flexible, rugged devices capable of providing the best of both worlds – mission-critical voice and high-speed data capability,” Sepura country manager for Australia Ronan

“The TETRA module in the SCU3 offers this to users in a familiar, trusted format, enabling organisations to extract full value from their critical communications solution.

“Sepura has spent a lot of time with users around the world, understanding their needs and challenges to ensure its solutions meet these needs.

“Hybrid LTE devices can deliver solutions to mission-critical users’ operational challenges.”


When it comes to mining operations, workers must be able to communicate across vast distances in remote parts of the country, so that communication needs to be reliable.

To this end, Sepura has combined TETRA with the extended coverage of VHF (very high frequency) to reliably carry mission-critical communications across huge outdoor sites and complex underground networks.

This solution is compatible with Sepura’s SCG22 mobile terminal and the SC20 and SC23 hand-portable radios. Extended coverage means mine sites require less infrastructure, reducing costs and maintenance. This also makes set-up time faster.

Sepura’s VHF TETRA solution can be rolled out with the MultiTech Base Station from DAMM Cellular Australia.

The VHF TETRA range also grants access to a range of communication

SAFETOWORK.COM.AU 38 MAY-JUN 2024 Safety technology
Reliable communication is the backbone of mining operations.
Image: jose luis stephens/
Sepura’s range of VHF TETRA communication products. Image: Sepura

modes such as SMS and SDS, direct (DMO), trunked (TMO) and gateway operation. It also provides access to feature-rich applications, including geo-fencing, auditing and audio optimising functions.

“Because VHF radio waves work over a much larger distance, this offers considerable advantages to a user organisation,” Sepura product manager Phil Retsas said.

“If you’re talking about a site that is 50 square kilometres and you need consistent coverage across that site to ensure safe, efficient operations, then VHF TETRA opens up many new opportunities.”


The durability of Sepura’s communication technology is not limited to signal strength. The company works closely with the mining industry to deliver radios that are built to last in harsh conditions.

Sepura’s TETRA radios have been meticulously engineered to handle the rough, dusty, damp and dirty conditions found in mining operations. These radios repel dust and water from audio components, which ensures clear communication in a variety of conditions.

A robust IP68 rating is designed to render them impervious to submersion and facilitates easier cleansing under running water. Once cleaned, they are ready for immediate operation, in turn eliminating downtime.

A dust guard acts as a vigilant defender against harmful magnetic dust, which would otherwise enter and damage the speaker cavity.

With its reliable and hardy products, Sepura is catering to the varied needs of its customers in the mining industry, delivering mission critical communication when and where it’s needed.

Sepura’s TETRA radios excel within rugged mining environments. Image: Sepura

Electrical safety

Setting the outdoor standard


The remoteness of mining operations means switchboards are often located outdoors, and without the protection of a switchboard room, these outdoor boards feel the full force of the elements. And in conditions as rugged and corrosive as those so often found on Australian mine sites, that force takes a toll. This is particularly true when it comes to heat.

As switchboards that sit in the sun continue to heat up, the temperature of the internal electrical equipment gradually rises, which can cause equipment failure or even a fire.

But the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is leading the way on outdoor switchboard safety, having ushered in higher standards governing how to test internal heat rise when a switchboard is sitting outdoors and will be heated by direct sunlight.

And while these standards are yet to hit Australia, one local provider of electrical and automation products, systems and solutions is already ahead of the game.

NHP Electrical Engineering Products has supplied its CUBIC Modular System to the mining industry for years, enabling versatile construction of electrical switchboards for a range of applications.

The system has been designed for higher-specification industrial applications, while also giving

NHP and CUBIC have now taken that successful recipe and refined it for the outdoors, delivering the new CUBIC Outdoor Modular System, which is tried and tested against the latest standards from the IEC.

“A galvanised steel shell strengthened by two layers of powder coat means that our system holds up incredibly well against the sun and corrosion,” NHP product manager for switchboard systems Nick Moss told Safe to Work

The CUBIC Outdoor Modular System has been tested under UV radiation according to IEC 61439-2:2020. The test included external exposure of 14,000 watts (W) of infrared light performed at present temperature-rise curves of 100–1000W, enabling easy verification of resistance to UV radiation and temperature rise limits.

“The system has a rating of IP56, which, in the context of mining applications, means that dust and other fine powder isn’t going to get into the board and cause havoc,” Moss said.

In accordance with the latest IEC standards and its IP56 rating, the CUBIC Outdoor Modular System was tested to withstand a pressure of 100L

number of the intelligent features of its indoor predecessor.

“The system is tested for arc fault containment, which means that if there is any short circuit or explosion inside the panel, people, the equipment and the buildings are protected” Moss said.

NHP channel marketing manager Mohamed Gad told Safe to Work a critical aspect about the CUBIC Outdoor Modular System is that it takes the guesswork out of safety and performance.

“Everything comes back to standards, which allow customers to pick the product that is a good fit for their requirements without jeopardising the safety of their people and assets,” he said.

“At the end of the day, if a product hasn’t been tested against industry standards, there’s no way to guarantee worker safety.

“We are proud to provide a tried-and-tested product that adheres to new international standards not even mandatory in Australia yet. It gives our customers the confidence that the CUBIC Outdoor Modular System is fit for purpose and will perform well in harsh environments.”

Image: NHP
An NHP technician servicing an indoor CUBIC Modular System.

Safety technology

Safety innovation underpins success





Amember of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Omnia Group, BME has a legacy of innovation across its portfolio, with safety a key priority in its technological developments.

According to BME managing director Ralf Hennecke, the attractiveness of the company’s offerings in Australia is due in no small measure to the country’s strict health and safety regulations.

“Our decade of experience in Australia has been built mainly on the success of our AXXIS electronic detonation system, which the local market has embraced enthusiastically,” Hennecke said.

“Our focus on safety is one of the main drivers behind our AXXIS range and extends into our emulsion explosives, our operating protocols and our range of digital tools.”


AXXIS Titanium, the latest generation of BME’s initiation system, incorporates a Swiss-designed integrated circuit chip in the detonator. This affords the system more safety gates against stray currents and lightning, and allows for safer logging and testing.

A unique safety innovation in AXXIS Titanium is the use of dual capacitors and dual voltage, allowing users to conduct low-voltage logging to avoid any chance of detonation.

Blasts are initiated by a robust, encrypted blast command, ensuring all electronic delay detonators (EDDs) receive their respective commands and fire as planned. This helps to ensure the detonator will only react if it receives the correct, encrypted

firing sequence from the blasting equipment, not from any other source.

AXXIS Titanium is also highly resistant to electromagnetic pulses caused by the blast, which can affect the accuracy of detonators or even

The Australian market has enthusiastically embraced BME’s AXXIS detonation system. BME managing director Ralf Hennecke.

cause them to fail. This feature is especially beneficial in confined spaces such as hard rock mines, tight burden and spacings, and underground operations, where EDDs are particularly susceptible to resetting and misfiring due to voltages from electromagnetic pulses, as well as from dynamic pressures.


BME’s AXXIS EDDs have evolved through multiple upgrades with safety front-of-mind, and have been successfully deployed across eastern Australia.

The rigorous testing BME applies to its EDDs includes exposing them to high voltages and currents, which can occur on mine sites due to factors such as human error or equipment failure. The result is an encapsulated electronic module, with an electronic printed circuit board that is overmoulded with a plastic material in a proprietary shape.

In collaboration with South Africa’s National Electrical Test Facility, BME pushed its EDDs to the limit by subjecting them to levels not expected in normal operating conditions.

No initiation occurred in all of the samples tested in this program, which BME described as evidence of its “ongoing innovation is finding new opportunities for safe blasting”.

BME has now expanded into Western Australia, where it has been conducting trials with AXXIS electronic detonators at various mines – with extremely positive results.

“There has been a significant market shift away from shock tubes and towards electronic detonators in Australia’s mining sector,” BME general manager in Australia Michael Wiseman said.

“These detonators also bring significant additional safety benefits in blast initiation due to their ability to be tested before being fired, facilitate two-way communications, reliability, programmability, and precision.

signal tube detonator plastic tubing is stretched to snapping point. When the plastic tubing recoils after snapping, percussive slapping can initiate the thin layer of high explosives contained within the plastic tube and cause the detonator to fire (or shoot).


BME’s expertise and innovation in dual salt emulsions have also contributed to health and safety.

In a recent presentation to the Australian chapter of the International Society of Explosives Engineers, BME global product manager Rakhi Pathak said mines are increasingly concerned about harmful gases that could be emitted during blasts.

the cause of product breakdown and fumes,” Pathak said. “They have extended shelf life, can tolerate extreme operating conditions, and offer increased blast performance.

“The chemical composition of dual salt emulsions can be easily optimised to minimise the generation of harmful gases.

“A careful balance of the oxidiser – the ammonium nitrate and calcium nitrate – and the fuel in an emulsion is necessary to ensure only harmless gases are generated.”

Pathak also said that dual salt emulsions have proven themselves to be less harmful in terms of potential nitrate contamination and greenhouse gas emissions.

Another important benefit of dual salt emulsions lies in mitigating the risk of nitrate contamination from explosives. Mining companies have become more sensitive to this risk, as nitrates can leach into water and land, creating significant compliance risk in terms of mines’ environmental impact.

Pathak said that BME’s dual salt emulsions are less susceptible to nitrate leaching, reducing any harmful impact on surface or ground water.

The company is equipped with an in-house research capability aimed at continually improving and expanding its product offerings, and has several product solutions dedicated to ongoing contribution to health and safety.

“Mining operations can now be more confident that misfires can largely be eliminated due to these attributes.”

“Dual salt-based emulsions are highly robust systems that can be successfully pumped multiple times and are less susceptible to crystallisation,

With BME’s current infrastructure build program in WA, these products are intent on being offered to support and improve safer mining in Australia.

Images: BME
BME’s dual salt emulsions release minimal carbon emissions. BME is equipped with dedicated in-house research capability.

Fire suppression for mega-class mining vehicles


Fire suppression solutions have become more sophisticated to match the growing complexity of ultra- and mega-class mining vehicles. Capable of moving hundreds of tonnes of material, these industrial vehicles have bigger parts, contain larger engines, carry more fuel and, consequently, present a greater fire risk than standard industrial vehicles.

Dry chemical systems have been the go-to for fire protection on large industrial vehicles since the 1950s, but dual-agent systems emerged in the 1990s to better protect ultra- and mega-class giants.

Despite the availability of an FM-approved single-agent system, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards require the use of a twin-agent suppression system in ultra- and mega-class equipment with “hydraulic systems containing more than 150 gallons [568L] in the lines”.

Dual-agent – or twin-agent –systems use dry chemical and liquid agents in a single design.

The dry chemical agent rapidly knocks down flames, and the liquid agent cools hot surfaces and minimises reflash potential.

However, the suppression benefits of these dual-agent configurations come with additional complexity –including costly clean-up and repairs after a dry chemical discharge, careful planning for side-by-side installations, and the need to activate two separate systems simultaneously.

These challenges, in addition to shifting regulations regarding the use of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), emphasise the need for a new, non-fluorinated suppression solution that simplifies fire protection while meeting the needs of today’s heavy-duty industrial vehicle operations.

Fire suppression SAFETOWORK.COM.AU 44 MAY-JUN 2024
Johnson Controls
Image: Johnson Controls is helping mine sites protect mobile equipment from fires.

Here are the test results

Suppression agent

Test oneDry chemical

Test two Water

Test threeTwin-agent system with dry chemical and legacy ANSUL liquid suppression agent

Test fourTwin-agent system with dry chemical and new ANSUL LVS NF-40 nonfluorinated liquid agent

Test fiveNew ANSUL LVS NF-40 nonfluorinated liquid agent


The latest evolution of firefighting technology has the potential to provide extraordinary performance for ultra- and mega-class earthmovers, exceed the capabilities of previous systems, and simplify fire suppression system design.

The ANSUL Vehicle Systems fire team recently conducted extensive testing to evaluate the effectiveness of a new, non-fluorinated single-agent liquid system versus other singleagent and twin-agent set-ups currently used in the industry.

According to the Queensland Mines Inspectorate, 60 per cent of fires on turbocharged diesel engines resulted from hydraulic or engine oil spraying on the turbocharger, 11 per cent were caused by engine fuel contacting the turbocharger, and 13 per cent from turbocharger failure.

With these statistics in mind, the chosen fire test protocol required agents to achieve the following:

• Suppress fire through a pressurised fuel spray

• Cool a superheated surface (simulating a turbocharger, manifold, etc)

• E xtinguish a fuel pool fire that could potentially be caused by fire or fuel propagation in real-world scenarios

• Prevent flame reflash


Caused the temperature of the superheated surface to slightly drop but did not knock down flames; heat and flames increased after 20 seconds

Could not cool the superheated surface or lower the temperature of the pool fire, but did not knock down or suppress flames; the test was stopped after 25 seconds

Achieved total extinguishment in eight seconds, with a total effective discharge time of 25 seconds for the dry chemical and 47 seconds for the legacy liquid agent

Achieved total extinguishment in six seconds, with a total effective discharge time of 25 seconds for both agents

Achieved total extinguishment in five seconds, with a total effective discharge time of 29 seconds

Tackling any one of these four objectives is difficult, but the protocol used incorporates all of them into a single test.

What makes this test especially challenging is the fact the suppression agent is sprayed horizontally at the vertical reignition plate and must therefore suppress and secure the pool fire by indirect coverage.


The testing demonstrates the speed at which the new ANSUL LVS (liquid vehicle system) NF-40 liquid agent can extinguish high-pressure fuel sprays and fuel in-depth pool fires, while also cooling the entire mass of the plate and the fuel in-depth pan below.


are major hazards on mine sites, so early intervention is vital.

Fire suppression

What’s more, the lower discharge time illustrates that less ANSUL LVS NF-40 agent is required compared to the legacy LVS agent for effective fire suppression.

Given the dry chemical used in test one could not knock down the flames alone, tests three and four suggest that the addition of a liquid agent –either legacy or NF-40 – suppressed and secured the pool fire.

Tests three and four demonstrate another shortcoming of the dry chemical. Although the twinagent systems achieved complete suppression, the thermocouple data showed that the plate remained superheated. It is thought the dry chemical created a barrier that isolated the heat of the plate from the fuel spray and prevented the LVS liquid agent from efficiently removing the heat from the plate surface.

Consequently, these tests demonstrate that the dry chemical component of a twin-agent system is not only ineffective in suppressing the fire, but may even hinder the suppression effect of the liquid agent.

In other words, under these testing conditions it was more effective to use ANSUL LVS NF-40 as a standalone system. This finding should influence the future design of heavy-vehicle fire suppression systems.

The physiochemical properties of ANSUL LVS NF-40 also impact fire suppression system design for haul trucks and other mining vehicles. The enhanced properties of this new agent allow for installation of more nozzles per tank and make it possible for each nozzle to cover more area compared to previous liquid agents. This design flexibility is critical as the size and complexity of these vehicles continues to grow.

With NF-40 liquid agent, the number of nozzles per tank may range from one to 24, depending on the size of the tank. The nozzle design and an extended maximum spray distance of 54 inches (137.1cm) helps the agent flow into hard-to-reach areas along the same path where flammable liquids may have migrated.

An operating temperature range of -40–60°C helps ANSUL LVS NF-40

agent protect mining operations in the most extreme conditions.

While heavy industrial vehicles have depended on twin-agent fire protection systems for decades, and some applications still require them to meet the NFPA 120 and 122 standards, these systems are complex to install, activate and clean-up.

Using ANSUL LVS NF-40 suppression agent alone not only streamlines complexities but can provide a better and more costeffective solution for ultra- and megaclass mobile equipment.

This advancement in fire protection technology offers the mining industry a new standalone single-agent option while meeting the growing need for a high-performing non-fluorinated solution.

Utilising new insights gained from the in-depth testing conducted at the Johnson Controls fire technology centre of excellence, mining operations can select the most effective vehicle systems solution for protecting personnel, property and operational continuity.

Image: John/
Fire suppression solutions have become more sophisticated to match the complexity mining vehicles.

Enhancing safety in underground mining

Protect the assets that matter most in your underground mining operation with Hexagon UG Collision Avoidance System

Using a network-independent, peer-to-peer system, Hexagon UG CAS detects the distance and direction of tagged objects, providing operators with 360-degree awareness and helping to ensure everyone gets home safely.

One platform. One partner. For the life of your mine.

Scan to learn more:

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A legacy name treading new ground Safety footwear


Crush injuries from heavy machinery, falls from slippery and uneven surfaces, chemical exposure and extreme heat are just a few of the risks associated with working on a mine site.

Footwear in the mining industry must therefore be able to hold up against a wide range of threats, and yet be comfortable enough for workers to endure lengthy and active shifts.

The ideal footwear walks the line between comfort and protection.

This balance is a challenging one to manage, but Oliver Footwear has had over a century to get it right.

Bootmakers since 1887, Oliver Footwear owes its origins to gold mining in the Victorian provincial city of Ballarat.

“It’s performance in the field and all-day comfort that sets Oliver apart from other brands,” Oliver Footwear product development manager Brett Huggins told Safe to Work

“We’re constantly updating the design to stay at the forefront, with our Australian design team inspired by industry feedback when making their upgrades.

“This approach has helped us develop a reputation for long-lasting and comfortable work boots, and that’s where we have an edge.”

Oliver offers specific footwear solutions for the most demanding workplace environments, which typically demand exceptional performance and protective requirements. The company supports industries such as manufacturing, firefighting and emergency services, and, of course, the mining sector.

Oliver Footwear’s All-Terrain (AT) 65 series is built for tough mining industry conditions.

The range comprises four models that incorporate features like 100 per cent waterproof technology, a Q-Flex non-metallic penetration-protection insole, COOLstep moisture wicking lining and breathable NANOlite fatigue reducing footbeds to keep feet dry and comfortable all day.

“Aside from keeping the foot supported and protecting it from outdoor impacts, we also look at ways to keep feet dry; not just from preventing water from getting in, but also from the sweat and moisture that will naturally build up in the boot,” Huggins said.

“People are going to wear these boots all day, so we want to maintain the hygiene of the foot and, to that end, have moisture-absorbent linings and footbeds to draw the moisture away from the foot.”

The AT 65 series is the first in the Oliver Footwear range to incorporate the innovative SAFETYcell technology, which comprises a coated leather shell, toe bumper, and heel guard for

The AT 65-490Z is a lace-up, zip-sided model. The 65-493 is ideal for wet and muddy conditions.

all-round protection from impacts, cuts, abrasion and chemicals.

The AT 65 series is lighter and more flexible than preceding models from Oliver. By removing unnecessary bulk and making key design changes, the company has delivered a range of safety boots that flex more naturally with the movement of the wearer.

The lightweight shock-absorbent midsole of this range protects and cushions the foot, while the hardwearing rubber outsole can resist surface temperatures of up to 300°C.

Heavy-duty Kevlar sticking across critical wear seams rounds things out for these models, providing longevity.

AT 65-490

AT 65-493

In terms of protection, the AT 65-490 features high abrasion and chemical resistance, high durability, and waterproof properties via the use of Cordura on the vamp of the boot.

Thanks to its leather and synthetic construction, the AT 65490 holds up well in medium-level corrosive environments.

Pronounced bars on the heal and toe guard are ideal for heavyduty applications.

The AT 65-490 comes in the 150mm lace-up model or the AT 65490Z lace-up, zip-sided model.

The AT 65-490 offers anti-static properties while the AT 65-490Z has electrical hazard protection.

The AT 65-493 is a 240mm pullon-rigger boot. Heavy-duty full grain leather construction makes this boot ideal for use in wet and muddy environments, and for jobs with washdown requirements using caustic substances.

This anti-static model features an internal Poron XRD metatarsal guard for increased protection against impact and crush injuries.

“It is not only comfortable, flexible and lightweight but frees wearers of rigid, bulky, and constricting padding,” Huggins said. “On impact, the Poron XRD high-performance molecules create a unique protective shield that absorbs up to 90 per cent of the most intense force.”

AT 65-791

The AT 65-791 is high-cut and robust, featuring an additional dual-sided ankle protector ‘Y-guard’ constructed with a rigid TPU. This ensures torsional support and impact resistance of the ankle and lower leg.

The AT 65-791 is the highest specification model in the range, ideal for underground miners in abrasive and rocky environments.

“Workers who wear these boots say they feel light and comfortable after long hours on the feet,” Huggins said. “They’re extremely durable, balancing great support with flexibility.”

The AT 65-791 features flexing pads above the back heel which, in combination with its full grain leather construction, make the boot manoeuvrable and comfortable.

The boot features a laced-in zip, which Huggins said provides extraordinary fit and functionality.

“The zip contours flush to the boot, providing full flexibility and support, and allows a custom fit to individual leg shapes,” he said.

“And because it has a zipper, the boots can be easily donned and doffed.”

The AT 65-791 features all of the trademark technologies of the AT 65 range, including the Poron XRD metatarsal guard. It is also anti-static and has a reflective panel above the heel to increase visibility in lowlight conditions.

Marrying performance with comfort, these new additions to Oliver Footwear’s AT 65 series are powering miners through the workday.

“As a leading provider of Australian footwear solutions, Oliver Footwear promises the most comfortable, best-performing and most durable footwear available,” Huggins said.

“Pioneering innovative comfort and sole technologies, we construct quality footwear that not only help its wearers perform their best on the job, but also provides them with superior comfort and style.”

The AT 65-791 holds up to rocky and abrasive environments. The AT 65-490 stands up to corrosive environments.

Workplace culture

Mine workers should feel empowered to speak out about safety concerns.

A culture of change


No one wants to work in an environment where they don’t feel safe. That’s why mining companies go to great lengths to ensure their people are kept out of harm’s way.

Myriad checks and balances, as well as safety gear and equipment, create layers of protection between people and the pit. But those safeguards are only in place thanks to extensive reporting that reveals areas workers need protection most.

If a mine has a poor reporting culture, critical safety issues could fall through the cracks. And that’s why it’s essential for mine sites to foster a good reporting culture.

But what does a good reporting culture look like, and what can operators do about it?

Reporting culture is like any other facet of workplace culture in that it only works if employees feel like they can speak out.

If workplaces are rife with issues like bullying and harassment, workers are far less likely feel supported to say something when they see an issue, even when it comes to safety.

Mine workers have a strong history of looking out for each other in the workplace. This was backed up by a recent report on the state of safety reporting culture in Queensland’s mining industry. The report, commissioned by the Resources Safety and Health Commissioner, found an all-round strong culture of safety in the state’s mining industry, but emphasised the need to improve incident-reporting systems.

While 93 per cent of participants reported that teams ‘always’ and ‘usually’ look out for each other and support each other to work safely, 32 per cent of participants found that senior leaders did not provide enough feedback on safety concerns.

Senior leaders who provide regular feedback on safety concerns help to improve worker confidence in reporting, so engagement in this area is critical.

But not all dangers threatening mine sites are of a physical nature.

More than ever, miners are speaking up about different kinds of safety issues affecting them in the workplace, including issues like burnout, anxiety, and bullying and harassment. In recent years, workplace culture and mental health have been joining physical safety as key priorities for the industry.

This change is being driven not only by worksites, but also by legislators and research bodies.

And the data shows that mining companies are rising to the challenge.

Curtin University’s Centre for Transformative Work Design released the latest iteration of its ‘Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety’ (MARS) study in March and, much like the Queensland report, the MARS study found a key area of strength for the industry was safety.

Simplifying reporting processes can also make it easier and clearer for workers to report highpotential incidents and hazards, as 28 per cent of participants found the reporting process complex, unclear, and/or time-consuming.

Most Western Australian mine workers reported high levels of physical safety behaviours such as safety compliance and participation. Levels of safety behaviours in the sample group of miners were even higher on average than benchmarks in

Image: Maksym Fesenko/

similar industries. But when it comes to overall workplace culture, the Curtin University study told a different story.

Four in 10 workers reported experiencing positive aspects of mental health at work, while four in 10 reported feeling burnt out.

While the report said rates of bullying have decreased since 2018, 16 per cent of workers reported experiencing bullying at least 2–3 times per month in the last six months.

But the MARS study’s lead author Cheryl Yam remains optimistic that the mining industry is making significant progress in creating healthy workplace cultures.

“The mining industry set itself apart as the leader in physical safety, and in more recent years that has shifted to a more holistic approach towards mental health and wellbeing, and more recently eradicating disrespectful behaviours,” Yam told Safe to Work

“The industry is following a trajectory where we are starting to see the collective effort foster really positive results.”

Yam emphasised a major highlight of the report was seeing the

TAKRAF Maintenance Cart -

for safe and efficient conveyor maintenance

positive impacts an organisational workplace culture focus can have on worker wellbeing.

“It was very nice to hear firsthand from some of our interviewees that they can actually see the organisations are making changes for the better,” she said.

When it comes to making real differences in workplace culture so employees feel empowered to speak up, Yam said the most durable changes come from a topdown approach.

“It’s what happens at an organisational level that really makes a difference for people,” she said.

“I think it’s really about encouraging not just workers themselves, but operators to continue on this route.

“Change isn’t always necessarily overnight, but there are indicators that where we focus our efforts, we do see really good results.”

Workplace culture affects every facet of the mine site, especially safety. Image: andre_nucci/ Especially suited to steep slope, tunnel and elevated structure applications Enables quickest and safest access to any point on the conveyor belt Allows idler replacement in under 15 minutes Minimizes downtimes and risks Innovation out of traditionIt pays to talk to a specialist! I Scan the QR-code to earn more about our maintenance services.

Back to the future


Wmining industry becoming too complex for its own good?

Will the removal of human interaction dilute workers’ ability to identify risk?

Is there a place for the simpler processes of the past to co-exist with new technology and ways of work?

These are the kinds of pressing questions on the docket at the Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference (QMIHSC) 2024.

With the theme of “Back to the future”, industry stakeholders, prominent safety voices, and delegates will come together to blend past and present to help navigate towards a safer future.

Few understand this ethos better than Professor Arnold Dix, who will speak at QMIHSC 2024. Dix is an Australian who made headlines in late 2023 when he helped rescue 41 trapped workers from the collapsed Silkyara-Bardot tunnel in India.

A scientist and expert in all things underground, Dix was contacted by India’s Chief Engineer

shifting conditions imposed by the Himalayas (where the tunnel was being built), all 41 workers were rescued without injury.

Dix believes many lessons can be learned from the adaptive and resilient solutions employed underground to help solve most of the challenges facing the world today.

“The Silkyara rescue demonstrates that almost anything is possible when we unite and be nice,” Dix said.

The discussion at QMIHSC 2024 will include critical safety lessons that can be employed in the mining industry and in day-to-day life.

“This year’s content is relevant to industry’s changing health, wellbeing and safety landscape, covering current and future matters and catering to our diverse delegate cohort,” QMIHSC chair Larnie Mackay told Safe to Work

“Extended interactions between our keynotes and delegates were positively embraced last year and will be continued in 2024, with opportunities to engage one-on-one.

“We encourage delegates to share knowledge, expertise and insights into important health and safety matters with keynotes and other delegates.”

Last year’s QMIHSC theme of “Inside looking out” involved speakers and exhibitions from within the mining industry and beyond.

Last year’s event, which aimed to look past the mining industry to see what programs, systems and initiatives were transferable to the resources sector, was a huge success that brought in safety experts from all walks of life.

Images: Queensland Resources Council
QMIHSC is Australia’s largest mining safety conference. QMIHSC 2024 speaker Professor Arnold Dix.

QMIHSC 2024 aims to keep that collaborative approach alive, bringing in guest speakers and exhibitions from a wide variety of industries.

In the personal protective equipment (PPE) space, German company Uvex returns as one of the 2024 event’s major sponsors. Uvex specialises in PPE across a broad range of areas like the heavy industries and sporting.

Uvex, which sponsors a French cycling team in the Tour De France, will give away a racers’ bicycle at QMIHSC 2024, making the event a must for any fans of cycling in the mining industry.

The team behind QMIHSC has also taken in feedback from last year’s event and made several improvements to the delegate experience.

Channelling the “Back to the future” theme, the event team has overhauled the registration process. Rather than filling in physical forms and name badges at the event like last year, selfregistration can now be completed

With the theme of “Back to the future”, industry stakeholders, prominent safety voices, and delegates will come together to blend past and present to help navigate towards a safer future.

electronically at kiosks. The change is expected to make the process faster and nicer, and generate less waste.

While last year’s delegates were able to raise issues to panels and speakers, this year’s QMIHSC has adopted an app to streamline the process of submitting questions. This digital approach also

allows the person raising the question to remain anonymous if they wish to avoid the microphone.

This year’s event places the guest experience front and centre, channelling the successes of 2023 and making improvements in other areas.

ManUp! Australia, an organisation devoted to early detection of prostate cancer that was last year’s Health Program award winner, is the 2024 recipient of the dinner appeal auction, where valuable items are donated and auctioned off to raise money.

“In an improvement to last year’s appeal, we will be opening up the auction online prior to the conference to maximise your bidding opportunities,” Mackay said.

“Please dig deep to support this worthy cause for the early detection of prostate cancer, a cause that has already saved the lives, and supported the families, of many in our industry.”

QMIHSC 2024 will take place at The Star, Gold Coast from August 18–21.

year will mark the annual event’s 35th year.

A dawning copper future


As a highly efficient electrical conductor, it’s well understood that copper has a vital role to play in the global shift towards renewable energy.

As is the case with so many commodities, Australia has vast stores of copper and is well-placed to capitalise on a growing global demand. But with demand predicted to outstrip supply in coming years, there are tangible challenges within the copper sector that need to be overcome before the industry can truly prosper. And where better to tackle these industry problems than in South Australia, the country’s own heart of copper?

The Copper to the World conference, to be held in Adelaide from June 18–19, will bring the mining

industry together to discuss the future of this valuable commodity.

Held in partnership with Austmine, the SA Government and principal partner BHP, the conference will spotlight technologies and strategies employed by world-class copper producers, with the aim of turning Australia into a safe, sustainable and successful copper nation.

Austmine chief executive officer Christine Gibbs Stewart told Safe to Work that the conference is sharply focused on technology and innovation, looking at more ways to move the dial when it comes to meeting global copper demand.

“The fundamental question of this conference is: what are the key factors for success for a world-class copper operation?” Gibbs Stewart said.

“Australia has the expertise and skills needed to create a sustainable and successful copper nation, but we need to come together and learn from other world-class copper producers and share how we can better tackle the challenges the industry is facing.

“Copper to the World will bring together innovation gurus in their fields who are looking to disrupt how we do things and discuss how we are going to be able to meet demand for this critical mineral into the future.”

With the theme of ‘Innovating for a sustainable future’, Copper to the World will unite key players, industry experts, technology leaders and global producers to discuss the innovation levers available to find new deposits, develop assets quickly and increase production,

Images: Austmine Copper to the World will help transition Australia into a copper powerhouse.

all while limiting costs and meeting decarbonisation targets.

Driving down energy consumption in copper processing is a particular issue that is set to be dissected at the event.

“Copper is a very energy-intensive industry, so we’ll be looking at new processing techniques to drive down energy consumption,” Gibbs Stewart said. “There’s new copper processing technology coming out of Queensland, as well as some really great stuff happening in SA in terms of in-situ leaching.”

With SA home to over 70 per cent of Australia’s known copper resources, it’s the perfect home for such an event. And of all the copper players in the state, perhaps none are as recognisable as BHP, which will have a prominent presence at Copper to the World.

As principal event partner, BHP will be featured in a number of sessions and will share important developments about its business in SA.

But Copper to the World is not just for the big players. Gibbs Stewart described it as the perfect place for companies of all sizes and Austmine’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector partners to come together, network and learn from one another.

“Not only will we hear from the copper producers, but the exhibition and conference presentations will feature the technologies, services and skills our world-leading METS companies provide,” Gibbs Stewart said.

“All of this combined will form conversations around how SA can become one of the leading copper producers globally.”

“There is a tremendous amount of highly skilled METS companies there, and I think it’s really getting people interested in the SA copper story.”

Beyond BHP, Austmine has lined up a host of experienced speakers to share their knowledge with attendees.

Rio Tinto managing director –group technical Craig Stegman, Aeris

Resources executive chair André Labuschagne and non-executive director Jacqui McGill, and OK Tedi chief executive officer Kedi Ilimbit are just some of the professionals taking the stage. The conference will also spotlight home-grown companies like Hillgrove Resources, Rex Minerals and Havilah Resources.

Austmine is encouraging everyone involved in the mining industry to join in the discussions. This includes investors who might not only have interest in copper, but also the latest mining technology.

“We know investors are not only interested in copper, but the technologies used to find, extract and process copper, which some are classing as clean tech,” Gibbs Stewart said.

“Copper to the World will provide a great platform to explore both.”

Copper to the World will take place at the Adelaide Convention Centre from June 18–19 June

Mining companies and METS partners will come together to discuss the future of the copper sector in Australia.

What are mine safety pods?






Aspecialist rescue team was able to 28 people safely to the surface following a rockfall at a Ballarat gold mine in March.

Thirty workers were 500m underground at the time of the collapse, with two men becoming trapped beneath the rubble.

Tragically, a 37-year-old miner lost his life in the incident, while the other was hospitalised.

The remaining 28 workers were able to reach an underground refuge chamber – a type of portable emergency shelter – where they awaited rescuers.


Refuge chambers are common in underground mines in Australia, with their critical function being to shelter workers in an emergency, providing oxygen and other essential supplies.

When evacuation is no longer a safe possibility, these shelters serve to protect workers from explosions, fires, rock-falls, flooding, and harmful gases.

“The potential for an underground mine atmosphere to become irrespirable due to airborne contaminants derived from fire or other sources or the loss of a fresh air supply is well recognised in the Western Australian mining industry,”

the Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum said in a guideline on refuge chambers in underground mines.

“A refuge chamber can provide a safe haven while waiting for the fresh air supply to be reinstated or a rescue to be mounted.”

Refuge chambers are typically equipped to provide clean air, water, humidity control, power, a communications link to a control centre, gas-monitoring equipment to measure air quality within the chamber, first-aid equipment, a toilet, and food.

These chambers are either externally supported (wired to

Safety technology
Image: Adwo/
A high-intensity green strobe light fitted close to the door of the chamber can make it easier to find in low-visibility conditions.

infrastructure on the surface) or selfsufficient. In the latter case, safety chambers can support themselves for up to 36 hours – well within the timeframe typical for an underground mine rescue.

There are also strict rules that recognise the fact other personnel such as supervisors, surveyors, geologists and service technicians may also need to use the safety chamber.

In WA, mine sites provide refuge capacity for more than double the size of the locally operating crew, or implement a system to limit the number of personnel in the area.


The WA Regulator said it is critical to ensure the proper positioning of refuge chambers.

“A refuge chamber is perceived as the ultimate place of safety in an underground emergency,” the Regulator said. “Its location should therefore be as secure from hazards as possible.

“Although the positioning of a refuge chamber is strongly governed by its accessibility to people in need of its protection, any potential susceptibility of its location to the hazards of rockfall, flooding, fire, explosion or damage from mine vehicles should be considered.”

It is recommended that sites place refuge chambers away from potential fire sources such as vehicle parking bays, transformer stations and fuel storage facilities.

While placement away from potential hazards is vital for safety, it is also important to consider how close chambers are to working areas.

Mine sites should establish a maximum safe distance between worker and a safety chamber.

According to the WA Regulator, an assessment should be based on how far a person, in a reasonable state of physical fitness, can travel at a moderate walking pace using 50 per cent of their self-contained selfrescuer (oxygen mask) to reach the nearest refuge chamber.

“If it is assumed that workers are equipped with 30 minutes of oxygen, then no-one should be expected to walk more than 750m to reach the nearest refuge,” the Regulator said.

Conversely, establishing a minimum safe distance is vital. Sites should consider the risk of entrapment, obstruction of work, and proximity to blasting when determining a minimum safe distance for a chamber.

These factors can not only hinder worker movement, but could also cause damage to the shelter.

Mine sites should also consider emergency response access.

“There have been international reports of rescue teams arriving at a refuge chamber only to find the route blocked with vehicles abandoned by the very occupants who are in need of rescue,” the WA Regulator said.

The position of chambers relative to underground roads and vehicle bays, as well as proximity to the mine’s entrance, should therefore be taken into account.

The Regulator also urges mines to avoid placing chambers near unstable ground or in zones where water is known to accumulate.

Refuge chambers in underground mines can act like insurance policies where evacuation is not possible in the event of an emergency. While most miners will go their whole career without having to use one, it’s critical that workers are trained in how to access and use these shelters if the need arises.

“Emergency response plans should include up-to-date records of the locations and capacities of refuge chambers,” the WA Regulator said.

“The distribution of personnel relative to chamber capacity, availability and location should be included in the shift plan.

“The shift supervisor should monitor and control the shift plan, and communicate the plan to the workforce at the start of each shift.”

Image: pierluigipalazzi/
Refuge chambers can protect underground workers in the event of an emergency.



ALTA 2024

PERTH | MAY 27–31

The world-class annual ALTA 2024 metallurgical conference is celebrating its 28th year at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Perth from May 27–31. Renowned as a leading platform for innovation, ALTA conferences are well-known for providing exceptional opportunities to share ideas and develop new connections. This year will feature practically oriented panels and forums delving into the future of battery metals across two key conferences: Nickel-Cobalt-Copper and Lithium-Battery Technology-Rare Earths.




A quadrennial conference that has been around for over 40 years, Molten 2024 will be held in Brisbane from June 17–19. What sets this conference apart is its scientific focus and support of the transition to sustainable technologies. The majority of metals undergo some form of high-temperature processing, whether in production, refining or recycling. It is the aim of this conference to make a positive contribution to the exchange and dissemination of knowledge on this important class of processing systems, and thereby enhance the rate of progress to more sustainable industrial processing systems.

• molten-conferences-2024



The Women in Industry Awards are an opportunity to celebrate the success of women who work in the mining industry.

The awards night, to be held in Sydney on June 20, features multiple categories that showcase exceptional examples of industry advocacy, mentorship and broad sector excellence.

The Women in Industry Awards recognise outstanding women from across a range of industrials sectors; for example, those who work in mining, transport, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, bulk handling, waste management, rail and construction and infrastructure – all sectors that are traditionally male-dominated. This is an opportunity to recognise the women who are driving change in industry and, in doing so, breaking down barriers and creating new possibilities for the next generation.


QME 2024


| JULY 23–25

The Queensland Mining & Engineering Exhibition (QME) connects leading suppliers and technical experts with those seeking better efficiency, better productivity and increased optimisation for their business and site.

QME will feature over 250 suppliers on the exhibition floor and will host a freeto-attend seminar series that will provide the opportunity to hear from industry professionals who will address the current needs of the industry. With live demonstrations and topical presentations, QME will be the ultimate destination for the Queensland mining industry.

QME is a key place for the industry to come together to be inspired, innovate and connect over three days. In one of the world’s most dynamic industries, QME has maintained its relevance and importance within the mining sector. It’s an event that’s not to be missed.




The 2024 PNG Industrial & Mining Resources Exhibition will showcase over 100 local, national and international manufacturers and suppliers with the latest innovations in the supply of services and equipment for the industrial, mining, and oil and gas sectors.

The two-day exhibition is a premier meeting place to connect and network with thousands of industry decision-makers across a broad industry reach, including senior management, procurement, government personnel, engineers, contractors and trade technicians.

With extensive support from key stakeholders in government, associations and industry, PNG2024 is a premier meeting place for industry trade and a forum for establishing high-quality customer contacts and conducting business.


IMARC 2024


The International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) is where people from across the entire industry come together to deliver ideas and inspiration.

Learn from more than 500 mining leaders and resource experts through seven concurrent conferences with a program covering the entire mining value chain. Attend one of the many networking events or catch up with industry colleagues on the exhibition show floor featuring more than 470 leading companies.

There will be practically endless opportunities to network, brainstorm and share knowledge over the three days at the ICC Sydney.


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