Safe To Work November 2023

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ISSUE 28 - NOV-DEC 2023

2023 | NOV-DEC | ISSUE 28

Muster your fire suppression partner 24–7 integrity monitoring



Heat stress

Mental health

Dust control

Workplace safety


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ummer may not officially start until December, but the warmer months are well and truly upon us. And the term ‘warmer months’ may be underselling things a bit. September and October have already delivered temperatures well above the average in various parts of the country, and with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology officially confirming an El Niño climate pattern miners across the country are set to face hotter, dryer weather. Of course, working in the heat is nothing new for Australian miners, but the coming months might represent a different challenge. The hotter, dryer weather leads to a risk of heat stress, an undeniable hazard for miners working in hot, remote environments. Those risks can include heat generated by machinery, heavy

personal protective equipment (PPE) and particularly hot environments such as underground mines, where workers are among the most at risk of heat stroke. In this issue of Safe to Work we look at some of the ways those risks can be managed. From advice from Safe Work Australia to hydration options across a site to the use of AI to monitor the effects of rising temperatures on the body, those risks can be mitigated – and even avoided altogether. Speaking of avoiding risks, this issue also takes a deep dive into the world of hazard avoidance. While at first glance the idea of hazard avoidance might seem limited to the more literal idea of people avoiding, say, mine site equipment, it’s actually a much broader idea. Hazards are everywhere on a mining operation, from the clothes people wear



OLIVIA THOMSON Tel: (03) 9690 8766 Email:


KELSIE HARFORD Tel: (03) 9690 8766 Email: CLIENT SUCCESS MANAGER JANINE CLEMENTS Tel: (02) 9439 7227 Email:



to the tools they use to the very air they breathe, so a holistic approach is needed to ensure workers stay safe wherever they are. But staying safe is definitely not limited to the physical nature of the job. Mental health remains a key aspect of mining safety and in this issue we again sit down with Paul Spinks, a veteran paramedic and trauma counsellor who delivers mental health and leadership presentations to workplaces and communities. Paul provides fascinating insights into how he helps provide people with tools they need to spot issues in themselves and their loved ones – and what to do about it. Paul Hayes Managing Editor

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In this issue

Features 8

20 24 A vigilant surface

A summer scorcher

44 Reach out to your MATES


As Australia shifts into an El Niño summer, it’s essential for miners to take

Glencore, in partnership with MATES in Mining, is committed to improving mental

With OmniPro Vizion AI, an innovative

care in the heat.

health in the mining industry.

collision avoidance system for surface operations, Matrix has established itself

12 Playing it cool

as a safety titan.

Heat stress is a threat to the health and safety of miners in Australia, and Hydration Station from Tradesales provides a solution.

48 Coal dust at the sources Martin Engineering breaks down some

36 Stepping out of the

of the many aspects of effectively

machine’s shadow

controlling coal dust.

Caterpillar and SafeGauge are

14 Safeguarding automation

improving workplace safety for

The Muster fire suppression system is

technicians through the elimination of

protecting autonomous assets on mine sites.

live work.

20 Stomp out hazards

40 Reversing the spiral

KAMU safety footwear founder Lusy

Veteran paramedic and trauma

Hartanu discusses how the right boots

counsellor Paul Spinks delivers mental

can help avoid some of the most common

health and leadership presentations to

hazards on a mine site.

workplaces and communities.






Invest in safety for everyone in the mine

United. Inspired.

Boltec ABR (Auto Bolt Reload) With the ABR (Auto Bolt Reload) function there is no need for the operator to exit the cabin and manually reload the feed carousel. The feed carousel is automatically reloaded from the bolt magazine located on the side of the machine, all while the operator stays safe inside the ROPS and FOPS certified cabin. The Boltec ABR is a solution that promises to become a game changer for safety in the mining industry.

Products CRITICAL COMMUNICATIONS Sepura recently launched a new suite of TETRA products tailored to the mining industry: • VHF handheld and vehicle devices – offering superior range and lower base station density, reducing costs •S C23 – 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 philosophy is to provide comprehensive solutions. Its focus in mining is robustness. The radio and speaker microphone are easy to maintain, rated to a minimum IP67 ingress protection, and feature water-porting technology, leading to minimal degradation in audio clarity or loudness when exposed to driving moisture, such as in dust suppression activities. •

HEXAGON LEVELS UP COLLISION AVOIDANCE SYSTEM 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 detection, 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 touch-screen display features modern UI/UX consistent with Hexagon’s other on-board solutions. This helps to create a better driving experience, reduced deployment and training time, reduced supply chain complexity, and increased operator adoption. •

THE ROTOFLEX 8560 SIX-INCH SAFETY BOOT The hero of Blundstone’s RotoFlex range, the six-inch 8560 in wheat nubuck, is available in sizes 5–14 (half sizes 7.5–10.5). Combining leading biomechanical design, an all-new comfort system and composite toe protection with all the legendary Blundstone durability people know and love. The 8560 provides outstanding levels of comfort and safety for wearers: • GripTek – lightweight TPU sole designed for optimum grip and comfort • AirCell – footbed built to ventilate, control moisture and cushion when you move •F ortalite: – compression-resistant composite toe cap, tested to resist a 200-joule impact •S oftcell – overarching comfort system utilising a biomechanical foot-cradling design to increase stability, balance, and manoeuvrability • I nfinergy – E-TPU super elastic energy foam from BASF that is soft but resilient, providing enhanced cushioning and reducing the impact of every step taken •

SEEING SAFELY WITH BOLLÉ Bollé is the eye safety expert when it comes to glasses. With a mission to protect people’s vision in the harshest environments, those in the mining sector can rely on Bollé to produce glasses that work with them in whatever the industry throws at them. Bollé’s Silex+ is equipped with a platinum coating for long-lasting protection against fog and scratches, and available in a copper version to fight against blue light, the Silex+ glasses are designed to protect the wearer while in any environment. The Silex+ features an ultra wrap-around frame for enhanced protection and FLEX 160° temples to adapt to all heads, reducing pressure points. The clear lenses provide 90 per cent light transmission, making them ideal to use indoors, while the smoke lenses are perfect for outdoor use. Those working both indoors and out can rely on the copper lenses to provide the ultimate protection for every environment. Bollé’s Silex+ glasses are adaptable, comfortable and most importantly, an essential safety feature for any mine job. •


PROTECT YOUR FUTURE Muster Fire Suppression Solutions for autonomous vehicles

In the autonomous mining landscape, where machines operate tirelessly without human oversight, Muster’s automatic fire suppression system ensures rapid fire response and fault detection. Muster swiftly suppresses fires, alerts your control center, offering peace of mind and asset protection. Our strength comes from high-quality distribution partners who manage installation, service, technical support & training nationwide. Lubrication Management | Fire Suppression | Fluid & Instrumentation

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Heat stress



he Australian Bureau of Meteorology has officially confirmed an El Niño climate pattern, which began in spring this year. El Niño occurs when surface temperatures rise in the central and eastern tropical parts of the Pacific Ocean, causing a shift in atmospheric circulation. The result is hotter, dryer weather. An El Niño cycle, coupled with the Australian summer, presents an undeniable hazard for miners working in hot, remote environments around the country. Heat stress – and, more severely, heat stroke – is a difficult thing for an employer to measure. There are no set thresholds when it comes to heat exposure due to the sheer number of variables. Safe Work Australia says when determining a heat hazard in a workplace, it is important to consider air temperature, air flow, humidity and radiant heat sources. In the context of mining, risks might include heat generated by machinery, heavy personal protective equipment (PPE) – which interferes with the body’s ability to reduce heat through evaporation of sweat – and particularly hot environments such as underground mines, where workers are most at risk of heat stroke. Inland mining sites in WA often see temperatures at or around 50°C in the hotter months. Beyond the environmental risks, there are also more individualised hazards, which include the working environment, the individual worker’s metabolism, and the specific task at


hand. This latter factor is perhaps the most significant of all. According to a study from the Department of Mines and Petroleum WA, work rates may increase heat production in the body up to 10 times the resting level, which can cause a rapid rise in body heat if it cannot be lost to the surroundings. Acclimation – or the process of becoming acclimatised to a new climate and conditions – is another factor. Studies have shown that individuals who are acclimated to hot environments show a reduction in resting heart rate, decreased core temperature, increased plasma volume, and decreased skin temperature. Such people also demonstrate a higher threshold for sweating, and their bodies are able to sweat more efficiently. This presents an issue for the mining sector, as significant sections of the workforce operate on a flyin, fly-out basis. This presents a risk where workers are flown into hot mine sites from significantly cooler parts of the country, making heat stress injuries more likely. Heat exposure can lead to dehydration, dizziness and nausea, changes in pulse, muscle cramps, and in extreme cases, confusion, convulsions and death. Fortunately, there are ways to manage the risks. In its industry guidance report, ‘Managing the risks of working in heat’, Safe Work Australia suggests a number of control measures to keep workers safe from heat exposure.

Eliminating identified hazards is the first of these control measures. “The first thing you must consider is whether a risk can be completely removed from the workplace. For example, consider cancelling work tasks or waiting for hot conditions to pass,” the report stated. “Consider whether it is possible to use automated equipment or processes to access hot locations. “Automated or remote-controlled machinery may also be used so workers don’t have to do physically demanding work by hand. “If it is not reasonably practicable to completely eliminate the risk, then risks must be minimised, as far as is reasonably practicable.” The next step hazard substitution, which covers substituting physical work for work that can be done by a machine, or prefabricating materials in airconditioned factories.

Engineering control measures can also be employed to mitigate the risks of heat on a mine site. This might be shade tents, ventilation, building insulation, air-conditioning, reducing radiant heat by allowing plant to cool before use, and providing accessible drinking water. On the administrative side of things, work can be scheduled to minimise physically demanding tasks, or they can be conducted during cooler parts of the day. Training, information and supervision are also integral parts of managing heat exposure. Properly training employees to identify the risks, stay hydrated, and know the signs of heat stress and how to handle it can go a long way in keeping the workforce safe. Utilising the right PPE also plays an important role. “It is important to consider how the PPE that is needed for some tasks

can increase the risk of heat-related illness,” Safe Work Australia said. “For example, heavy protective clothing and masks can trap heat close to the body. You should consider the type of PPE being provided, as well as the length of time an individual is wearing PPE, their work rate, acclimatisation level and environmental conditions. “Additional control measures, such as increase in break times, should be considered when workers are required to wear PPE that increases the risk of heat related illness.” Wearable PPE such as internal temperature monitors can also help keep workers safe. Thanks to El Niño and a warming climate, there is plenty for Australian miners to be cautious about this summer. Fortunately, major strides have been made in safety technologies and procedures to help keep workers safe from heat stress. Mine workers can be exposed to temperatures of more than 40°C.


Heat stress


Bodytrak’s AI sensor earpieces provide accurate data and insights.


ith a scorching summer approaching, mine sites across Australia are in need of a holistic solution to protect workers from rising temperatures and stop heat stress in its tracks. And this is where Bodytrak comes to the fore, engineering solutions that utilise artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor the effects of rising temperatures on the body. “We provide individualised physiological monitoring and precise data capture through our product and platform to prevent incidents relating to heat stress, as well as fatigue and noise exposure,” Bodytrak founder and chief executive officer Leon Marsh told Safe to Work. “Our in-ear device contains sensors that measure several

physiological responses, including core body temperature and heart rate.” When a user’s responses exceeds pre-set thresholds, the Bodytrak solution sends an audio alert to that user, as well as real-time notifications to supervisors through SMS, email and the Bodytrak dashboard. “This enables early intervention,” Marsh said. “Miners can cool off in an air-conditioned breakroom or hydrate themselves to avoid heat stress.” Wearables have evolved substantially over the last five years, becoming smaller, smarter and easier to implement. “The most reliable wearables for industrial use have shifted from the wrist to the ear,” Marsh said. “That’s where all vital and physiological signs can be measured most

accurately without being affected by external variables. “Bodytrak provides accurate measures of parameters like core body temperature, heart rate and heart rate variability to indicate potential incidents related to heat stress, fatigue or injury.” Marsh emphasised the danger heat stress poses in inducing fatigue when working on a mine site. “Fatigue is one of the most under-reported and underestimated workplace hazards,” he said. “To monitor fatigue, sensors in the earpiece measure the variance of time between heart beats.” This measurement is known as heart rate variability (HRV), which indicates the function of the autonomic nervous system controlling the body’s involuntary physiological responses.


“A lower variability indicates our body’s inability to process any sudden changes as efficiently, meaning the body is fatigued or under stress,” Marsh said. “When the user wears the Bodytrak device, this works quietly in the background to process the HRV in realtime and generate alerts to potential dangers.” From there the device’s geolocation, geofencing and SOS alert instantly identify where a user is located and notify those in charge, allowing for a quick response from supervisors. “While we accurately monitor an individual’s response to workplace stressors and challenging environments to prevent incidents, the

Bodytrak’s user-friendly dashboard keeps all the important information in one place.

data captured isn’t just raw numbers,” Marsh said. “Bodytrak provides organisations with a clear lens to obtain valuable insights into workplace trends and patterns.” In addition to making workplaces safer and more efficient, Bodytrak data also captures a comprehensive look

at physiological responses to workplace stressors, eliminating the need for unnecessary equipment or testing. “Previously, organisations had to use different devices to address each individual hazard, which is inefficient, costly and onerous for users and supervisors,” Marsh said. “They are often not integrated, so monitoring and responding to issues can be challenging for an organisation, as is internal compliance and reporting.” With Bodytrak, even the most remote mine sites can operate with confidence knowing its workers are protected from the effects of heat stress before they arise.

Heat stress



ustralia is gearing up for a season of extreme heat. From bushfires to bad sunburn, Australians are no strangers to the risks of a hot, dry summer. And working in such harsh heat, as is often the case in the mining industry, can prove especially risky. Experts warn the oncoming El Niño cycle, combined with impacts on the climate, puts workers at risk more than ever of heat stress, which can lead to exhaustion and even heat stroke. Mining is particularly susceptible, with temperatures approaching 50°C in some remote areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Drilling, blasting, welding and working near smelters or furnaces are just some of the ways heat can quickly get dangerous on a mine site. With heavy personal protective equipment (PPE) trapping body heat and rapidly raising core temperatures, whether underground or on the surface, miners face off with heat on a daily basis. And in the case of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) miners, the nature of the work means people are not given time to get used to the often-drastic change in temperature between home to the site, a shock to the system that could prove dire. When you combine all of those factors with the fact miners often work in the some of the hottest and most

The Hydration Station is a proactive measure that promotes the wellbeing and safety of mining personnel.

remote areas of the country, access to fresh, cold water and a place to cool off is essential. And that’s where Tradesales comes in. The company’s Hydration Station is designed to provide easy access to clean drinking water for people on remote or temporary worksites. The Hydration Station is a fully insulated 6m container equipped with a high-powered air-conditioner to keep staff cool and hydrated. It can be connected to the mains water supply or can accommodate up to four Aquapax 1000L water pods for remote sites. The Hydration Station has been designed to meet the stringent requirements of Tier 1 mining companies, including electrical, documentation and food-grade plumbing and water filtration. “On top of providing water, the Hydration Station is also equipped with ice machines and airconditioning, allowing team members to catch their breath and take a welldeserved moment out of the sun,”

Tradesales national sales manager Jay McEwen told Safe to Work. “The Hydration Station has been field-tested on some of the most challenging sites by Rio Tinto, BHP, Thiess, Woodside and more. “These operators have a duty of care to provide ample amounts of safe drinking water as ordered by the relevant state mining regulators.” Preventing heat stress and dehydration in the workplace is paramount in the resources sector, where workers are often handling huge equipment on a massive scale. Accidents due to impaired cognitive function from heat stress can have disastrous consequences. When Newcrest ran a random test of 150 shutdown workers in 2019, it found up to one-third were not adequately hydrated at the start of their shift and three per cent were so dehydrated they needed to be stood down from work or receive medical attention. That’s four people who were so dehydrated that they were no longer able to work and needed see a doctor.


Tradesales is helping workers stay cool in a scorching summer.

McEwen emphasised implementing the Hydration Station is a proactive measure that promotes the wellbeing and safety of mining personnel. “The Hydration Station goes beyond hydration by providing a comfortable rest and respite area close to the work site,” he said. “In extreme conditions, workers can lose up to a litre of fluid every hour, leading to a rapid decline in physical and cognitive function. The Hydration Station ensures that workers stay hydrated, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. “In addition to refilling water bottles, workers can cool down, catch their breath and take short breaks. This not only improves worker morale

but also enhances productivity by reducing downtime.” The Hydration Station’s portability means it can be strategically placed near worksites and easily taken apart and moved as required. “Portability is essential when the number of people increases on a site for a short time, such as for a shutdown or construction project,” McEwen said. While the company has a range of standard designs, the Hydration Station can be customised to the specific needs of a mine and its workers. “Its modular design is highly customisable, with options for additional features like glassfront fridges, freezers for electrolyte

icy poles, and bench seating,” McEwen said. With climate concerns and a net-zero target looming, there is a greater focus in the mining industry on implementing greener technology. The Hydration Station is one way to increase the environmental awareness by encouraging the use of reusable drink bottles. In July 2021, iron ore giant Fortescue said it would prevent more than 8000 pieces of plastic from going to landfill each day by removing single-use plastic drink bottles from its worksites. With hundreds of thousands of miners working across Australia, eliminating single-use plastic waste is a mammoth achievement for sustainability. The Hydration Station can be connected to mains water for workers to refill drink bottles and to Aquapax 1000L pallet water pods, which reduce plastic waste by up to 80 per cent and minimise transport by 50 per cent. Due to the extreme working conditions miners often face – the heat and dry climate of remote mining locations – the Hydration Station is an ideal fit for Australian mine sites. It may sound simple but cooling off and staying hydrated saves lives.

Hazard avoidance The Muster fire suppression system can be fitted to mobile assets and fixed plant, automatically triggering in the event of a fire.



s autonomous mining machinery continues its rise to prominence, companies are faced with the challenge of figuring out how to protect these expensive assets, such as in the event of a fire. In the absence of an on-board operator taking immediate action against an inferno, miners need certainty that their autonomous vehicles will be protected. That’s precisely the peace of mind that JSG Industrial Systems is looking to provide its customers through the Muster fire suppression system. Muster fire suppression systems can be activated automatically, manually and, thanks to Muster’s remote activation device, remotely. The remote activation device allows

a mine to trigger a fire suppression system from a distant control centre, making the technology well-suited to autonomous applications. “In the case of haul trucks, these machines run around on a site for 23 hours a day without an operator on board,” JSG Industrials national product sales manager Dale Sharpe told Safe to Work. “That can present a real problem when it comes to spotting fires, but more significantly when a fault in a machine’s fire suppression system occurs.” To address this issue, the Muster fire suppression system employs a dual fire and fault alarm system. This means the system can automatically detect and suppress a fire on a machine, as well as detect faults in its own system.

The core of the technology is the Muster alarm panel, which monitors the integrity of the fire suppression system around the clock and automatically controls the activation of the suppression systems. “The alarm panel is the heart and brains of the system,” Sharpe said. “It’s got data-logging features that keep track of everything happening with the system, even unauthorised tampering. “As soon as Muster detects a fault in the fire suppression system, it notifies the autonomous system, which in turn notifies somebody in the control centre of the fault. The person in the control centre can then pull that particular truck aside and send someone out to fix it. “In the event of a fire, the suppression system activates, then sends an alert to the control centre, which can then dispatch emergency crews.


The diagnostic module makes the Muster system easy to maintain.

The Muster alarm panel and Muster remote activation device.

“Muster has great synergy with autonomous vehicles thanks to the extra level of protection when it comes to fault-finding. In the event of a fire or system fault, Muster provides customers with the ability to intervene. “Without Muster technology, it might be five or 10 minutes before somebody actually notices a fire, or 23 hours down the line before somebody notices a fault in the fire suppression system.” When it comes to autonomous mining equipment, Muster has applications on haul trucks, bulldozers, drill rigs, water carts and graders. In the case of drill rigs and dozers, where the operator keeps a strict eye on the machine via camera coverage due to the hazardous nature of the work, sites can particularly benefit from Muster’s remote activation device. “If the operator sees a fire start, they can press a button to remotely activate the fire system on that

particular piece of equipment,” Sharpe said. “In other words, somebody sitting in Perth can push a button and the fire system 1400km away in the Pilbara can be discharged automatically.” No two fires are the same; different fuels and environments call for different suppression solutions. Muster has a range of solutions, supporting mining-related applications. Muster’s foam-based suppression system is ideal for suppressing diesel-engine fires; the aerosol fire suppression system is best suited to electric motors and server rooms; and the impulse powder fire suppression system is able to rapidly knock down fire. Each Muster system can be configured as a standalone defence or in conjunction with another in a dual-agent system to cover multiple risk types on the same asset. JSG Industrial Solutions backs Muster and its customers with a national training capacity. “We work closely with our distributors and service partners to

ensure customers are trained to use Muster, which creates an operatorlevel awareness,” Sharpe said. “If any of our technicians and service partners are not readily available, preventive maintenance or fault-finding can be done at the operator level. This increases the serviceability of our equipment and machine availability as a result.” Another tool in Muster’s kit is the diagnostic module, which helps with system maintainability. The module plugs into the Muster alarm panel, allowing users to download all the system information. “The diagnostic module can help with fault-finding, so you don’t necessarily have to have in-depth knowledge of the Muster system,” Sharpe said. “If there’s an issue with a system and no fire technician within 400km, the diagnostic module can tell an operator what’s happening and point them in the right direction. “That comes back to less downtime or more machine availability.”


Hazard avoidance

Prioritising collision avoidance

Collision avoidance and proximity detection systems help to make workplaces safer.

distance between vehicles, people and hazards. “At level eight, the system provides advice to the operator, such compliant with the Earth Moving as where the proximity alert is coming Equipment Safety Round Table from and how to react to a given (EMERST), a global safety initiative proximity alert. involving major mining companies. “At level nine, the system provides “EMERST has defined nine levels intervention control, such as slowing for CAS and PDS and we believe that the machine or stopping the machine our system is currently the only one if the operator has not reacted to the to meet the highest requirements level seven and eight notifications.” legislated in South Africa,” Prill said. Prill said the company has seen an “The nine levels are structured enormous demand for CAS and PDS in three categories. The first three technology in Australia as regulations levels are design guidelines like site tighten, with operators now expected requirements, segregation control to implement safety measures. and operating procedures. Levels “We have thousands of vehicles four to six are related to operational and people on our system, which has discipline controls like authority significantly contributed to achieving to operate, fitness to operate and zero incidents and injuries,” Prill said. compliance to operate. Levels seven, “We see that some mines are eight and nine describe technology spearheading the implementation controls to avoid significant risk, which of CAS and PDS safety systems are the areas where our CAS and PDS and already have these types of come into play. systems in place. Other mines “At level seven, our system have a clear strategy and target by provides proximity alerts to the when they would like to have these operator based on defined criteria and safety systems in place, and we expect that the rest will EMERST outlines nine follow very soon. safety levels for collision “It is important that avoidance systems. the industry doesn’t wait for another safety incident before reactively deploying CAS and PDS on-site. These technologies are available now, and they’re already contributing to safer mining.”



he mining industry is generally a higher-risk workplace and, despite all processes, risk assessments and preventive measures in place, incidents occur. Around 30 per cent of incidents are related to interactions with heavy machinery. Collision avoidance systems (CAS) and proximity detection systems (PDS) aim to significantly reduce the number of incidents between vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-people, and vehicle-tohazard interactions. Epiroc’s CAS and PDS are unique in the sense that they comprise several sensors ranging from low frequency, sub-RF (radio frequency), time of flight, GPS, cameras and radars. These can be freely combined to achieve the highest level of safety for various environments within underground and surface operations, and for individual use cases a mine wants to address. “We understand that there is not one technology when it comes to CAS and PDS, which is why we have a very modular and flexible system to achieve the highest level of safety,” Epiroc acting business line manager – digitalisation Andreas Prill said. CAS and PDS have been engineered to be


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Hazard avoidance



greater level of awareness of silicosis means mine sites are beginning to implement, or consider ways to protect workers against the deadly disease. But the situation is a complicated one, with no silver bullet solution. A silent and persistent threat in the mining industry, silicosis is caused by the inhalation of respirable crystalline silica, microscopic particles 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, which is

found in stone, concrete, sand, mortar and more. When inhaled, the particles manifest as fibrotic scarring in the lungs. People with the lung disease report debilitating health issues such as shortness of breath, weakness, chest pains, and the need for supplemental oxygen and mobility aids. Silicosis can be fatal, and there is no known treatment to reverse the disease.

Workers in Australia have long had to face this insidious challenge. “In the early 1900s, sewer tunnels were dug in Sydney through sandstone. Just 18 months later, almost 75 per cent of those tunnel workers had died of silicosis,” Mideco director Melton White told Safe to Work. “In 1908, a contractor working on tunnels in Sydney acknowledged that, within two years, strapping navies ‘pine away to almost nothing’.”

The Bat Booth blows silica and other harmful dust particles from workers’ clothing.




Bat Vents keep silica out of buildings.

The mining industry has made strides in safety in recent decades, but when it comes to tackling silicosis, White said the resources industry is still evolving. According to a report by Lung Foundation Australia, silicosis cases have increased in Australia in recent years. In NSW alone, the annual number of certified silicosis cases increased from nine in 2016 to 107 in 2020. The situation is a difficult one to address. “Unlike other dust particles, silica is incredibly light and can float through the air for up to 36 hours, permeating every area across a site,” White said. “It moves with the air and seeps into site buildings, which is problematic because no one wears PPE (personal protective equipment) in the office or while they eat lunch.” While PPE is essential for respiratory safety, White said it is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to protecting workers against silicosis. Mideco’s Bat Vent, which protects site buildings from silica, is another piece in that puzzle.

“Mideco’s Bat Vents take air from the atmosphere and pass it through three stages of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration – the same standard used to protect birthing suites – before blowing it into the room,” White said. “This keeps the room under slight pressure, preventing contaminated air from entering. “Bat Vents also recirculate the air from inside a room, stripping any silica out of the space.” The plug-and-play solution results in a safer working environment, a passive barrier against silica, and greater peace of mind. While the Bat Vent protects workers on site, Mideco’s Bat Booth is also protecting workers and their families when at home. “The Bat Booth is a personnel de-duster that uses compressed air (below two bar) to aggressively and very quickly decontaminate a worker,” White said. “The contaminated air is blown away from the worker and recirculated through HEPA filters. The whole process takes about 10 seconds, so it won’t delay workers in their activities – including going home on time at the end of a shift. “A dusty uniform can lead to dangerous exposure levels to respirable dust, which not only poses a risk to workers but also their families. When Australia was still using asbestos in building materials, the victims were often the wives of workers who would be exposed to asbestos second-hand. “Having a Bat Booth on-site makes sure workers don’t take the silica home to their families.” With its Bat Vent and Bat Booth, Mideco is providing workers with robust plug-and-play protection against silicosis on two oftenoverlooked fronts.

Hazard avoidance The KAMU women’s safety boot range is tailored to the female foot anatomy.



hen it comes to Australian mine sites, dangers can come in many forms. Some of those hazards are associated with the operations themselves, such as collision and hearing damage, while others, like heat stroke, punctures and slips, are by-products of the environment. Because the risks on a mine are as present as they are varied, the best way to stay safe is to stay vigilant. Safety experts at KAMU are helping miners do just that with the company’s line of fatigue-fighting safety footwear. “Fatigue is a silent but significant hazard on a mine site. It can come about from ill-fitting footwear, causing discomfort and distraction from the job at hand,” KAMU founder and global head of sales Lusy Hartanu

told Safe to Work. “When workers are fatigued, their concentration wanes, increasing the risk of accidents. “Physical fatigue, especially in the legs, can lead to chronic pain in the feet and knees, as well as long-term issues in the hips and lower back. “Reducing worker fatigue is such a crucial factor in hazard prevention. Companies can empower their workforce by selecting the right safety boots to match various work environments and risks.” Through intelligent footwear design, KAMU safety boots are helping to keep the mining industry energised and alert. “KAMU footwear has a four-layer sole design with an added anti-fatigue layer of Infingery by BASF. This layer returns energy with every step,” Hartanu said.

“This technology, renowned for use in top-performance running shoes, offers a remarkable 57 per cent return on the energy put into each step. It not only keeps workers safe but also helps them reclaim spent energy, comfortably powering them through the day. “The better you feel in your skin, the more alert and focused you can perform your work. “Fatigue reduction contributes to heightened alertness and better decision-making, critical in avoiding accidents.” This marriage between safety and wellbeing is the philosophy on which KAMU has built its brand. “By wearing boots that reduce fatigue and enhance alertness, workers are not just guarding against hazards – they are actively


Energy-return midsoles help fight fatigue, sore feet and stress to the lower back.

participating in a safer, more productive future,” Hartanu said. In addition to powering workers through the day, KAMU safety boots are a frontline defence against many of the hazards found on a site. “KAMU boots are designed to provide comprehensive protection against crush and puncture injuries,” Hartanu said. “Whether people opt for steel or composite toe caps, both options shield against impact and compression hazards. “Additionally, workers can opt for puncture-resistant midsoles for extra protection against hidden hazards on the ground – and that’s just covering the basics. “At KAMU, we look at how the finer design details can play a role in safety. For example, our women’s footwear is tailored specifically to the female foot anatomy, providing greater comfort and, what is most important, with a better fit comes greater safety. “In addition, our boots have a reinforced boot waist and outer midsole line that provides stronger protection to the instep and plantar area of the foot.” KAMU boots are also a bastion against the heat often faced on a mine site. “KAMU has a range of models that were specifically developed for mining, with nitrile rubber soles that are heat resistant up to 300°C, ensuring workers are protected from hot surfaces and substances,” Hartanu said.

Protecting against heat is as much about heat resistance as it is about keeping cool, and that’s why KAMU boots are engineered with comfort technologies. “The parts of the body that emit the most heat are the hands and the feet, and there are more sweat glands per inch in our feet than anywhere else in the body. This is why we put a strong focus on climate comfort,” Hartanu said. “KAMU footwear incorporates materials like Coolmax, which enhances breathability and helps moisture evaporate, keeping the feet cool and dry. This not only reduces the risk of blisters, but also prevents heat stress – another big fatigue-related safety hazard.” According to Safe Work Australia, there were roughly 30,000 trip, slip and fall injuries in the country in 2022, making this type of injury the second most common in the workplace behind body stressing. KAMU addresses this common hazard in the construction of its footwear, which are slip-resistant in excess of SRC standards. An SRC rating means the boots are laboratorytested to be resistant on ceramic, sodium lauryl sulphate, steel and glycerol surfaces. “KAMU’s specialty mining boots have excellent slip resistance, featuring outsoles with pronounced lugs,” Hartanu said.

“In addition, we incorporate an angled sole design and profile at the heel. This feature provides exceptional traction when the heel strikes the ground, provides better stability, and reduces the risk of slips on various terrains encountered in mining operations.” Laboratory-designed and fieldtested, KAMU safety footwear is as high-tech as it comes. But the company is always looking for ways to further develop its products. “The company has a strong focus on research and development, collaborating with experts across Australia, Germany, and Indonesia,” Hartanu said. “KAMU’s dedication to marry safety with wellbeing means that we will continue to refine and enhance our boots to meet the evolving needs of workers in the mining and other industries.” Through a raft of intelligent safety and fatigue-fighting features, KAMU is helping keep workers energised and safe from hazards. “We make it our mission to help prevent hazardous situations from the ground up,” Hartanu said. “Our boots transcend traditional safety measures, playing an integral role in enhancing overall well-being and fighting fatigue to help prevent hazardous situations.”


KAMU footwear offers lightweight and breathable styles, keeping workers comfortable on and off the job site.

Hazard avoidance



s it always does, the mining consistent performance across sector is set to expand. variations in worksites.” New projects and When people are working in close production are set to proximity to heavy machinery, things ramp-up in the coming years as the can happen too quickly to respond race to supply critical minerals for safely. That’s when HazardAVERT’s net-zero approaches. And with that electromagnetic system brings the expansion comes new sites and new machine or vehicle to a stop. challenges – all with responsibility to “Our technology provides coverage keep workers safe. to all types of vehicles,” Napier said. Luckily, a new era of workplace “And we’ve upgraded our coverage safety is burgeoning, with rapid range to 50m.” advancements in collision avoidance Keeping workers safe for over technology thanks to the use of a decade, HazardAVERT is still a artificial intelligence (AI). preferred solution to the challenges The team at Strata Worldwide has of working around heavy machinery. a long history of pioneering safety But it’s Strata’s new HazardAI that has technology for mining operations the potential to level up safety in the across the globe. workplace to a new high. One such development is Unlike HazardAVERT, Strata’s the company’s tried-and-true AI technology means no wearable HazardAVERT system, which is devices are necessary – everyone designed to alert workers to imminent is protected by sensors able to machine-to-machine or machine-todifferentiate between people, person collisions. machines and obstacles. The system works via Stereoscopic 3D cameras attached communication between to machinery measure distance electromagnetic devices worn by workers and attached to machinery. According to Strata managing director Tony Napier, the slightest oversight on a busy mine site can lead to disaster, so accuracy and consistency are essential to keeping workers safe. “One of the biggest issues with other proximity systems is variations in performance,” he told Safe to Work. “A huge Strata is keeping miners strength of the HazardAVERT safe with HazardAVERT. system is its reliability and

and advanced algorithms analyse collision potential. “HazardAI can detect people and machines up to 40m away extremely accurately,” Napier said. “That information determines whether alarms are sounded or whether the AI software brings the vehicle to a stop automatically.” But HazardAI goes beyond keeping workers safe in the moment. Napier said there is a significant emphasis on recording and reporting data that can be used to change a mine site’s operations to avoid reoccurring issues. “Every interaction is recorded and analysed,” Napier said. “So there are solutions for all manner of proximityrelated requirements.” Strata has plans to roll out HazardAI across mining operations around the world, opening up the potential for an integrated HazardAI and HazardAVERT system doubling down on-site safety. “Part of our roadmap now is to integrate those different technologies into our core controller,” Napier said. “Both systems can work concurrently, because while they have the same purpose – collision avoidance – they operate in different manners and have different strengths.” Napier said these collisionavoidance technologies are now being implemented in other industries, with mining setting the tone for comprehensive site safety. “Mining has had such a big impact,” he said. “Now others are following the lead set by the industry.”



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Hazard avoidance

A vigilant surface defence WITH OMNIPRO VIZION AI, AN INNOVATIVE COLLISION AVOIDANCE SYSTEM FOR SURFACE OPERATIONS, MATRIX HAS ESTABLISHED ITSELF AS A SAFETY TITAN. OmniPro Vizion AI uses a high-speed identification rate and powerful computing to alert on people and key objects.


ew industries come close to the mining sector when it comes to the importance of safety. And in an industry held to such high standards by regulators and the public, safety incidents can be costly. That’s why mining companies shouldn’t settle for less regarding safety technology. Matrix Design Group has established itself as a premium

provider of safety solutions to the mining industry. The OmniPro Vizion AI collision avoidance system is the latest in the company’s arsenal of award-winning safety solutions. “OmniPro Vizion AI primarily helps companies do three things: prevent accidents, save lives and reduce costs,” Matrix vice president of international operations Wes Chitwood told Safe to Work.

OmniPro Vizion AI is a collision avoidance system that, with single or multiple cameras, effectively implements visual artificial intelligence (AI) technology to immediately detect personnel or objects moving in the projected travel path of mobile equipment. The system alerts the operator to their presence without requiring wearable devices or tags for


“OmniPro Vizion AI primarily helps companies do three things: prevent accidents, save lives, and reduce costs.” personnel or assets. The operator has access to an in-cab screen to provide vision for multiple zones around their mobile equipment. But what sets OmniPro Vizion AI apart, according to Chitwood, is its ability to distinguish multiple objects at a time. “We have this extraordinary collision avoidance system that uses artificial intelligence to not only identify pedestrians, which is hugely important, but also to identify a broad

selection of items,” he said. “We can train the system to recognise anything the customer wants, so it’s not limited to the pre-set list. “If a customer wants to identify a bicycle, we can train the camera to do exactly that.” This makes OmniPro Vizion AI a solid fit for various industries, each with unique circumstances. This is no less true for surface mining operations, where hazards are as plentiful as they are varied.



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The fact OmniPro Vizion AI can detect multiple different kinds of objects at once means the system can keep track of people, light and heavy vehicles and other potential hazards as a mobile asset navigates a mine. Thanks to OmniPro Vizion AI’s firmware and software, the cameras automatically detect the direction of travel without relying on machine input. This means the system will only see hazards in the line of fire, eliminating unnecessary alerts. All of this is accomplished through the camera’s AI software and without the need for identifying tags, which workers can sometimes forget or lose. This means businesses don’t have to worry about paying for supporting equipment, and the system isn’t reliant on any intermediate factor when identifying objects.

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Hazard avoidance The small size and easy set-up means also OmniPro Vizion AI is easily scalable. “You can set up an indefinite amount of cameras on a single piece of equipment, meaning you can monitor as many angles as needed simultaneously,” Chitwood said. “We also have additional technologies to detect low-light situations to automatically switch to infrared versus staying on white light. “There’s also a function that alerts the operator if one of the sensors is covered. “And you don’t need any special software to access the cameras. It’s all cellular, Wi-Fi and an easy-to-access cloud system.” OmniPro Vizion AI also features a reporting system that provides mine operators with essential safety tools, including full-data capture and analysis, calculating average daily breaches per machine and trending breaches over time, access to an event graph with images time-stamped for alert, and warning zone breaches. The system can also filter breaches by zone type, sort by type of event (such as person, sign, car, etc), and provide SMS alerts in the case of a safety event. The key benefits of the OmniPro Vizion AI reporting system include its ability to track safety and performance precisely, clearly identify accident risk areas, and identify the most hazardous safety times in hours and days to provide near-miss reporting, with the identification of location via the timestamping of images. OmniPro Vizion AI can be installed at an alert or intervention level. The former alerts the driver with a light and configurable alarm system, while the latter can also automatically slow the machine to avoid a collision.

OmniPro Vizion AI can be used to detect blind spots or path of travel. The system can identify people in multiple positions as well as cars, trucks and other key objects.

Matrix has a strong history of delivering award-winning safety solutions, such as its OmniPro collision avoidance system, which won the US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety’s Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovation Award in 2020. In 2021, Matrix again received the award for its enhanced IntelliZone system, a proximity detection solution for underground mining. “We’ve learned a lot over the last 15 years of developing IntelliZone, which is the leading proximity detection system in the world for underground coal,” Chitwood said. “Now we’ve put that experience into developing OmniPro Vizion AI for collision avoidance on surface operations.”

Matrix has the after-sales support to back up its products with 24–7 care. “We have Matrix offices and distributors located in Queensland and New South Wales, and additional distributors in Victoria and South Australia,” Chitwood said. “Service and support are primary focuses of ours. If we can’t support it, we won’t sell it. Period.” Matrix Design Group is a company whose track record of delivering award-winning safety solutions speaks for itself. Through its intelligent, scalable and easy-to-install design, OmniPro Vizion AI is helping keep costs down, equipment undamaged and workers alive.


“REASONABLY PRACTICABLE” MOBILE PLANT SAFETY See and know risks of injury operators can’t Warn crews and operators before risks become incidents Bolt onto machines quickly and easily Review footage of risks from anywhere Know where, why and how risks are happening Watch without surveillance Australian technology tested by Australian miners

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“Blindsight gives us an extra dimension when it comes to protecting people from plant.” John P. – Health and Safety Manager, Operations

Plant risk management Blindsight gives operators the peace of mind to focus on their job.



ery big machines are very dangerous. How and why has been anyone’s guess because of underreporting and a lack of context and understanding about inherent risks. This was until the machines became risk-smart themselves: watching, recognising and capturing all of the threats crews face when working near mobile plant. Blindsight, an Australian technology, is giving mobile plant this intelligence. Heavy machinery, especially mobile plant, has big blind spots. Its bulky nature, engineering, and the way it is used leave operators blind to large areas surrounding their machines.

Crews working near the machines are often unable to see where operators are looking and what they are doing, and site managers and safety personnel are unable to observe every machine all the time. Now the machines see for themselves. They actively watch for, recognise and capture every potential danger, warning operators, crews, and site and safety managers of worrying situations. They determine where, why, what, when and how risks to people happen. “The biggest, lumpiest, even oldest mining equipment is now also the smartest,” Position Partners market

development manager Nick Corr said. “This equipment is now super intelligent about never exposing people to the colossal dangers big machines pose.” With more than 30 years of experience in deploying intelligent solutions, Position Partners solves challenges with proven technology, such as Blindsight, to enable safer, more efficient and more productive mine site operations. According to Daniel Smith, who recently installed over 50 Blindsight systems, fitting Blindsight is “a doddle”. “Usually, the most testing part is sitting through a mine site’s OH&S


training so I’m permitted to go to a machine and fit the kit. (Blindsight) is designed to simply bolt onto the machine,” he said. “Its eyes, its brains, and how it communicates are all part of the autonomous Blindsight technology.” The “eyes” are specialist cameras trained on the surroundings of mobile plant. The “brains” is a computer processing unit designed and built to manage the substantial computer vision data and withstand the harsh conditions of mining in Australia. It also communicates risks directly from the machine in three distinct ways: • Blindsight instantly alerts the operator. It’s faster at seeing, recognising and alerting the operator about an impending risk than is possible for any human, but with the added advantage of never being distracted and only alerting when there’s a real risk to humans. • Crews at risk are warned at the same time with audio alerts, lights, or a combination of lights and audio. Crews instantly know they are getting themselves in harm’s way. • Safety and site managers are automatically notified of the risk occurrence, severity, location and timing, type of machine involved, and footage providing context for the risk. All of this information is easily accessible and available for toolbox talks, formal safety training, and for thorough analysis at a later stage. “Knowledge is power. The more knowledgeable our miners have about where, why, what, when and how risks present, the stronger they move towards zero serious harm,” Kieran MacKenzie, founder of Presien, the Australian company that develops Blindsight, said. “That’s why it’s imperative that the smarts on each machine are also available off the machine,

Blindsight has a simple alarm panel for operator ease of use.

accessible to site, operations and safety management – irrespective of where and how far from the machine they are located.” Blindsight takes care of people’s safety on the ground, with ultra-high-reliability and superfast expediency. This can only be achieved by Blindsight working autonomously and independently on each operating machine. Whenever a risk is detected, Blindsight also ensures those who need to know about it are promptly informed with all available data, including footage of the risk. This contextual data is accessible remotely, whenever needed, via the internet over mobile data connections. MacKenzie credits Australia’s heavy industry for Blindsight’s technical and market leadership. Awarded

over 20 times for its technology and its specialisation, Blindsight is used by leaders in heavy industry across Australia and internationally, significantly reducing risks associated with heavy plant. “The technology, the business, our industry relationships – everything we are comes from being part of the local heavy industry,” MacKenzie said. “We were incubated by Laing O’Rourke in Australia and, once our technology was proven, we set about independently to serve all heavy industry sectors, supported by Position Partners.” Another key benefit of Blindsight particularly valued by miners is that it only – but instantly – engages when there is risk. It remains alert but not active in the absence of danger, only recording when it detects actual risks to people. “Nobody likes being monitored, but everyone appreciates someone watching out for them,” MacKenzie said. As one of Australia’s most progressive heavy industry innovations, Blindsight has also gained the attention of other industries, international markets and others keen to resolve various perpetual challenges facing the industry. While the impact of Vision AI – a specialist artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can see, detect and recognise – on mining safety may be a new frontier for some, Presien’s Blindsight teams have been working at it for years. Consisting of the world’s richest heavy industry Vision AI module, Blindsight applies everything its AI has learned and is learning to keep mining crews safe near machines. Unlike other AI, it works without connection to the internet, right from the machine, even in the most remote corners of Australia. Always alert. Only alarming when people are at risk.


Hazard avoidance



hen it comes to safety on a mine site, it’s all about diligence. The team at Hexagon set out to abide by the most rigorous standards when developing its safety solutions. Not only do these solutions keep workers protected, but they also keep the site running worry-free. The Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) outlines a comprehensive set of critical controls that aim to enable safer management of operators and vehicles. EMESRT standards are broken down into nine levels across three areas: design, operational, and reactive controls.

Hexagon works diligently within these parameters to ensure its technology and processes are on the cutting-edge of safety. The company has combined decades of experience in the mining industry with the rigorous safety standards of EMESRT to provide mine sites with safety solutions that go beyond checking boxes. One such solution is Hexagon’s collision avoidance system (CAS), which is designed to keep drivers and workers safe and protect assets on-site. “CAS uses state-of-the art technology to provide information on surrounding traffic and issues collision warnings based on advanced

Hexagon offers solutions like its collision avoidance system, vehicle intervention system, and fleet management system, OP Pro.

algorithms,” Hexagon senior vice president – material movement Sean Perry told Safe to Work. “CAS has been on the market for more than a decade and has become the market leader for collision

Hexagon’s collision avoidance system is protecting workers and safeguarding assets.


avoidance and traffic awareness in the mining industry.” The CAS display provides situational awareness to the operator in accordance with level seven of EMESRT, and audible and visual warnings when the system predicts a collision risk, corresponding with level eight’s advisory controls. EMESRT levels seven through nine cover the most rigorous machine safety protocols. Hexagon said its CAS is simple to use, with a streamlined design specifically engineered to keep drivers moving without unnecessary distraction. Speaking of distractions, mining is a noisy process, and sunlight in the harsh conditions of remote operations can be blinding. Safety solutions need to go the extra mile in innovation to make sure miners can hear and see alerts to danger.

The CAS QD1400 display is custommade for the demands of the mining industry. The display provides up to 800 lumens of brightness for readability in sunlight or when wearing sunglasses, as well as two high-performance loudspeakers reaching at least 10–20 decibels above cabin sound level. Another solution in Hexagon’s broader safety suite is its vehicle intervention system (VIS), which provides multiple layers of safety to vehicles and personnel on mine sites. “Hexagon’s vehicle intervention system automatically takes control of the propulsion system of the truck in defined situations if the operator fails to do so,” Perry said. “The solution uses machine controls and sensors to prevent launch, control speed, and automatically brake to maintain a safe distance and avoid collisions. “It adds a layer of digital protection, ensuring that even if the equipment operator misses an alert due to fatigue or distraction, or is unable to respond, the system can take over to prevent accidents.” VIS operates in accordance with EMESRT’s level nine, which outlines intervention control and the need to be able to react to the millisecond when it counts. The technology also supports remote monitoring tools to track equipment progress and supply operational feedback to supervisors. But Hexagon is always looking for ways to increase the value of its products, developing them beyond safety and into the broader operational health of a mine site. This is the ethos behind the machine guidance system, which rounds out Hexagon’s range of safety solutions with an emphasis on boosting efficiency. Offering support for digging, dozing and drilling equipment, Hexagon’s

machine guidance system enables sub-20cm accuracy for supported angle sensor geometries on hydraulic shovels, excavators, loaders, dozers, and boom and deck drills. The technology combines drilling design support, asdrilled data management, and comprehensive reporting to hone-in on precise drill depth and hole spacing for material blasting. “The system supplies on-board guidance to operators to meet planned designs, increase production and reduce ore dilution,” Perry said. “The aim is to provide advanced grade management functionality for both office and on-board users that ensures operators are digging and loading the correct material.” Hexagon’s machine guidance provides EMESRT level eight advisory controls through its implementation of on-board hazard warning indicators to alert operators within a specified hazard proximity. Hazards can also be imported from the office to the vehicle or logged from on-board the equipment for further preventive measures. In addition, Australia’s geographic location means it is in a prime position for global navigation satellite systems. The machine guidance system takes advantage of this visibility to improve precision and reliability, especially in deeper open pits, with global navigation systems compatibility. Matching machine guidance with the CAS and VIS technologies, Hexagon is able to offer a range of holistic solutions to keep miners protected while they efficiently deliver the resources Australia needs. By holding themselves accountable to rigorous standards and aiming to fulfil a broad spectrum of the EMESRT riskmitigation levels, Hexagon is proving that diligence – whether in the design room or on the mine site – should never be underestimated.


Hazard avoidance



orking on a mine site carries risks that must be managed properly to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy. The risks associated with hazards, like working around heavy machinery and at heights are often obvious and have immediate consequences. But other hazards are not so visible. Occupational hygiene considers many of these longer-term hazards, including noise, heat and dust. Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists (AIOH) media ambassador Samantha Clarke told Safe to Work the mining industry needs to incorporate effective dust controls to manage’ exposure to silica, coal and metal dusts at the same level they manage other safety risks. This includes ventilation systems and respiratory protection. “Because their impact may take years to result in irreversible health effects, like cancer or noise-induced

hearing loss, these risks do not tend to demand the attention they deserve,” Clarke said. “Like safety hazards, occupational hygienists use the hierarchy of controls when advising ways to manage these risks.” As an occupational hygienist herself, Clarke has helped mines understand their exposure risks, often starting with a walkthrough survey to understand processes and controls in place. This includes speaking to workers, who typically understand their workplaces best, often discussing the problems and possible solutions. Workplace monitoring can measure levels of dust or noise to which workers may be exposed. This can then be compared to workplace exposure standards to understand health risks, in turn informing an ongoing strategy to prioritise and minimise these risks. “Measurement is important even when exposure levels are low,” Clarke said. “Respirable crystalline silica, for

example, can be hazardous at very low concentrations, so exposure risks may not be obvious. Data can support a business case for large exposure-reduction projects. Having a quantitative baseline can also verify effectiveness of these investments by demonstrating reduction in exposures.” Occupational hygiene has great potential across the entire the resources industry, which is why the AIOH is encouraging mine and quarry operators to attend its Annual Scientific Conference and Exhibition on in Melbourne from December 4–6. “The event will host speakers from around the world to share advances in health knowledge, monitoring technologies, research, communication and leadership,” Clarke said. “We welcome safety professionals, allied health professionals and site operators to gain an insight into our field. “It will also feature our biggest ever exhibition, where equipment suppliers, laboratories, consultants, software providers and universities share the latest technologies, tools and services. “Our goal is to promote healthy workplaces by providing opportunities for members to continuously improve their technical and influencing skills. This enables us to engage with and support industries to understand and effectively manage health risks, and ultimately reduce the risk of workers experiencing disabling diseases.”

Occupational hygienists help protect workers against physiological threats that may not be immediately apparent on a mine site.

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he Gold Industry Group is a member-based, not-for-profit association that represents the industry, championing long-term initiatives that grow understanding of the gold sector’s value to the economy and community. Safe to Work sat down with Gold Industry Group acting chief executive officer Kristy Reilly to discuss how the sector is keeping its people safe.


Gold Industry Group CEO Kristy Reilly.

Gold mining operations, like all mining operations, have to deal with a range of hazards. What is always great to see is the industry’s unwavering commitment to ensuring not only the safety of its workforce but also the protection of the environment and the well-being of the communities in which we operate. I think over the past few years we’ve noticed a real shift in the way organisations treat psychological hazards, which are now considered just as important as physical hazards. Organisations are now ensuring the right resources are in place to protect workers, and this includes engaging experts, hiring dedicated staff to address these hazards, as well as extensive training programs for management. These days, companies know that addressing psychological hazards can

actually improve overall workplace safety and productivity, and high levels of stress and mental health issues can lead to decreased concentration, accidents and lower job performance.

wide workplace psychological safety push, which I think is really exciting.


The Gold Industry Group’s main role in this area is to foster collaboration among our member companies, encouraging the exchange of best practices and the development of innovative safety solutions. We regularly hold ESG (environmental, social and governance) meetings with key stakeholders on topics that affect the industry as a whole. They are a great opportunity for companies to learn from each other, and for the bigger companies to share resources with companies that may be smaller and less resourced. A great example of this is the suite of respectful workplace resources which were recently developed by Gold Fields, which we then made freely available to all our member companies to utilise.

A big focus for the industry at the moment is fostering work environments where employees thrive. The industry has long recognised the business and social importance of achieving psychological safety, and what we’re seeing lately is a strong desire for companies to work together to achieve this. At our annual Leadership Breakfast at Diggers & Dealers 2023, gold mining leaders noted that there is a real opportunity to establish a competitive advantage over other commodity miners by having the safest and most inclusive workplaces in the resources sector. I think what we will see in the next 12 months is an accelerated industry-



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Elimination of live work



he journey toward elimination of live work (ELW) has begun for many in the mining industry. Some may be far along the path, others may just now be implementing some of the elements, while still others may have unconsciously implemented some concepts without having previously heard the term. At its core, the goal of ELW is to eliminate the need, as much as possible, for technicians to work within the footprint of energised equipment. “Ensuring that we’ve done all we can to make sure a company’s greatest asset – its people – goes home safely every day,” Caterpillar Safety Services operational risk consultant Jenny Krasny said. ELW solutions can range from the simple (maintenance manuals clearly stating service should be done while a machine is de-energised) to advanced (using technology to remove the worker from an energised machine’s shadow).


One key for the ELW success is that it cannot be done in a vacuum or implemented only by one party. It takes a collaborative approach between the mine, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) supplying equipment, and the dealers supporting that equipment. Caterpillar has long worked with its dealers and customers to help move

ELW takes a collaborative effort between mines, OEMs and dealers.

technicians away from the danger zone. One of the first efforts, which continues today, was to review and update manual maintenance and service procedures. Where possible, engineers reworked these procedures to eliminate the need for live work. Miners have been a driving force for suggested ELW opportunities. “Generally, customers communicate with dealers and OEMs like Caterpillar where improvements can be made,” Caterpillar technical manager and ELW team leader Dave Husted said. “After Caterpillar assesses the procedure improvement, maintenance and service manuals are updated and communicated through our standard service information system (SIS) team, which is open to Cat dealers and customers.”

Caterpillar is also clarifying in service manuals if a maintenance procedure can be accomplished without the machine being live. The company has so far opened, resolved, or is in the process of resolving over 2000 tasks targeting ELW. “We have released more than 100 service magazine articles stating ELW procedures are now available, completed approximately 90 specific procedure changes included in SIS maintenance and service manuals, and generated more than 30 general service magazines to drive awareness of ELW enhancements,” Husted said. These changes impact a range of mining equipment, from haul trucks, loaders and shovels to dozers, drills and underground hard rock vehicles.


Earlier this year, Caterpillar and Cat dealer WesTrac held an ELW workshop in Western Australia with three global mining companies. The workshop was designed to help customers and dealers better understand the ELW journey, share experiences and gain insight on customer priorities. It generated different customer pain points for higher exposure, repetitive tasks for technicians including articulation joint wear check, slew bearing bolt torque checks for hydraulic mining shovels and dozer equalizer bar checks. “We found, with the high frequency of these tasks, that technicians can become blind to the inherent risk,” Krasny said. “So this workshop was extremely valuable in generating multiple high-priority areas for dealers and OEMs to innovate and advance ELW efforts.”


It is frequently dealer technicians who works on mining equipment in the field as part of service contracts and equipment repair, so they face a greater risk of exposure. Work is often completed on-site, so mining companies want the dealer to have the same ELW commitment and standards. Equipment dealers are doing their part to examine processes and procedures and remove any unnecessary live work. WesTrac has an ELW project in which it has committed to removing personnel from within the footprint of live equipment for up to 90 per cent of common maintenance tasks. To aid in this effort, the Cat dealer developed a remote-controlled camera fixed to an antivibration base, which has the ability to swivel 360˚and can be mounted to any live machine to carry out various inspections. Another such tool innovated by the dealer screws into the S∙O∙S oil ports

on Cat trucks to remotely retrieve fluid samples. As the OEM, Caterpillar’s dealer service tool group developed a tool that aids in the inspection of large mining truck steering linkage. This previously required the technician to enter under the truck to attach a dial indicator to the linkage and view it during testing. A new hand-held electronic unit with multiple diagnostic tools means the technician can perform this inspection remotely, without being under the truck, so it can be completed more safely.


The industry will see further collaboration between miners, dealers and OEMs, and technology will play an expanded role in reducing the need for technicians to work in the shadows of energised equipment. One such advancement, Cat electronic technician (ET), is currently in field. A licensed software available for dealers and customers, ET allows the technician to connect to the machine’s electronic control module to access items such as status parameters, active and logged diagnostic codes, and diagnostic tests and calibration to help identify machine issues. Rather than using a wired connection to the machine, the ET field follow unit is wireless, so this information can be viewed outside of the energised machine’s footprint on a tablet. OEMs, dealers and third-party suppliers will also develop more work tools to advance ELW practices as needed. As more tools are developed, a single-source system for supplying these tools will make it easier for mining customers to access them. “These practices can be adapted and developed for related industries like construction, waste management,

ELW keeps technicians safe from potentially hazardous machinery.

agriculture and forestry,” Husted said. While technology and tooling are important, Krasny cautions they are not the entire solution. “The mining industry is moving toward a digital landscape, and the allure of technology is strong,” she said. “Unfortunately, without the cultural building blocks that reside in process, practice and procedure, the technology value-add is limited. “ELW requires the development of a culture of change to adapt to new ways of working on equipment, teaching and mentoring technicians as well as customers. “The journey toward ELW isn’t difficult in most cases. It requires passion and commitment to see it through, ignited and supported from the top and led from the front line.”


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Mental health



can recall the day I attended the house where a 14-yearold girl committed suicide in the bathroom while her parents sat on the balcony on their phones. The parents were heavily engaged in somebody else’s life while unaware of the dangers lurking in their own home. This is not an isolated case.” Through his business, the Wake-Up Call, Paul Spinks helps provide people in the workplace with tools they need to spot mental health issues in themselves and their loved ones – and what to do about it. “Suicide statistics continue to rise in Australia with around 3500 deaths a year, 65,000 attempts and many more at any given time who are spiralling and don’t even realise. Chances are,

Paul Spinks delivers wellbeing presentations to workplaces and communities across the country.

I’m talking about someone in your family,” Spinks said. “We’ve got to be mindful that suicide is the end of the line. It begins with ailing mental health, so we’ve got a huge opportunity to catch it and to do that we firstly need to be having a good look in the mirror. “I think as human beings we should possess the very basic ability to know how to reach out and talk to others, but we are losing this skill at a frightening pace. Many people come up at the end of my conferences and say that they’ve lost the ability to communicate effectively with a friend, their parents or worst of all, their kids.” A common approach to reaching out to people in workplaces is wearing brightly coloured shirts with

themes like “this is a conversation starter” emblazoned on the back. The idea being that people will take the opportunity to open up about their troubles. “It’s a clever marketing idea and has been taken up widely in the workplace. My concern is: are they the vehicle to encourage those in strife to open up about their issues and are the people wearing these shirts suitable candidates?” Spinks said. “Concepts like this can lose their credibility if the person donning the uniform is unfit for the job.” While initiatives such as R U OK? Day are great for increasing mental health awareness, it’s important to ensure the key message doesn’t get lost. “The next level up from this is the employee assistance programs (EAP) that workplaces have in place,” Spinks said. “Trouble is, throughout corporate Australia these programs are almost always reactive instead of proactive. It surprises me how often the majority of staff have no idea who their EAP provider is or what they look like. “Mental health first aid providers are the gold standard and a great initiative, but you need to make sure you’re right first before you try and help others. “And for those at home looking for new ways to reach the family, try conversation starters over dinner like ‘best parts, worse parts, what did you learn today?’ Or change it up with ‘best parts, worse parts, what worried you the most today?’ You will be surprised how effective this can be.”



When it comes to sorting yourself out, Spinks says it’s important to know what it’s like to hang out with yourself. “Give people the permission to bear all. Ask them: how am I doing? What are my hang-ups? What behaviours are annoying?” Spinks said. “You can learn so much about yourself if you don’t get upset by someone’s honesty. “To communicate this point in a seminar environment, I ask the audience if anybody knows a tosser in the room. Everybody laughs at this, of course, because everybody knows one. But what happens if the tosser is you? Wouldn’t you want to know? “If you don’t put yourself out there for critique, you’re living in a bubble, so nobody ever tells you what you need to be told and sadly you can spend a lifetime being a tosser. “Having established the right relationship with yourself, we are now in a position to reach out to others or have others reach out to us.” The best way to do this, Spinks said, is to be approachable, trustworthy, likeable, and, most importantly, vulnerable. “How do you expect somebody to be vulnerable with you if you’re not vulnerable with them first?” Spinks said. “As a wellbeing presenter I must also gain trust with my audience and have them be prepared to open up to me. To do this I share vulnerable stories of my life, like the time I went for a medical examination for my commercial pilot license when I was 16.


People can learn from the ‘what ifs’ that stem from a crisis.

Mental health “The doctor tells me to take my clothes off. So I take of my pants and I’m standing there in front of him and then he says, ‘No, Paul, take your underwear off as well’. Now I’m standing there stark naked, concerned and somewhat afraid. Then he asks me a series of sexually explicit questions, which I reveal to the audience. “I was only 16 – what was I supposed to do? Things only go south from there; I hop onto his consultation table and the rest is history. That doctor is now a convicted paedophile behind bars.

psychological distress and unhealthy coping strategies in the fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce. For the past 10 years, Spinks has done a series of presentations at mine sites across the country, most recently at Glencore’s Collinsville mine in Queensland. When asked his thoughts on the presentations, Glencore health, safety and training manager Mark Sverdloff responded with a simple and emphatic “excellent”. “I’ve seen Paul on several occasions at previous sites and every time he’s

“Suicide statistics continue to rise in Australia with around 3500 deaths a year, 65,000 attempts and many more at any given time who are spiralling and don’t even realise.” “And that’s what vulnerability looks like, I tell the audience. I don’t know any of you in this room and I’ve just revealed one of the most personal experiences in my life. “You be the judge. If you think I’m the kind of fella you could talk to, share something personal with and trust, then add your version of this to your conversation starter profile. You won’t get there talking footy.” Though Spinks’ message is universal, it has been particularly well received in the mining industry. According to MATES in Mining, a suicide-prevention group, suicide rates are markedly higher in the mining, construction, and energy sectors than in the general Australian population. Studies also show notable levels of

delivered, it’s been very well received by the masses,” Sverdloff said. “Paul’s past and the way he goes about delivering his message certainly resonates with the workers. He prompts people to think about what’s important. “A fortnight later and I’m still getting comments from workers like, ‘I’ve been here for 20 years and that was the best presentation I’ve seen’. “People are our most important resource. If you can offer them the tools to keep them physically and mentally healthy, you’re going to engage your people and create a great workplace. “I think that shows our people that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that hardship is not necessarily infinite.

“We invest a lot of time and money into these things, and sometimes the speakers can be a bit hit and miss, but Paul is exceptional in that space.”


While it’s admittedly a difficult and confronting process, much can be learned from the ‘what ifs’ that stem from a crisis. “Something that’s common across all families when I attend a crisis, be it a heart attack, an overdose, or a suicide, is the ‘hindsight’ discussion, where family members relive the events prior to the tragedy, asking themselves what they could have or should have done differently,” Spinks said. “There’s a lesson here for all of us. What would we do in hindsight? What sacrifices would we make to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe if we had advance warning of danger? “You’d make that phone call because your family is more important than whatever you were doing at work. You would put down your phone and be present. You would bring up meaningful conversations and be vulnerable because you’d have this desperate need to avert what you knew was going to happen.” Spinks reflected on one final point from his aviation days. “A South African Airways 747 plummeted into the sea killing all onboard in 1987, yet the investigation revealed multiple people along its path could have averted disaster,” he said. “I learned this sitting in an aviation conference listening to the former head of safety of Qantas tell this chilling story. His takeaway message was, ‘Use your family as a measure for everything that you do’. That statement alone has paid massive dividends throughout my career.” Visit for more information.






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Mental health



iners often face a unique work environment while employed across the resources landscape. With large swathes of rural Australia taken up by mine sites, workers will often have to undertake fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) or drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) work, which means leaving family and friends at home for weeks at a time. The stigma surrounding mental health is diminishing within the sector, but some miners still find it difficult to speak about the struggles that can come with working in the industry. Recognising this situation, major miner Glencore partnered with MATES in Mining, a suicide-prevention charity established in 2012, to help support employees with their own mental health, and their colleagues’. Suicide-prevention has stepped into centre-stage of the campaign with the release of the University of Melbourne report, ‘Suicide in the Australian mining industry: A national study’. The study, produced

is a need for advocacy to drive the collection of this important data.” Study author associate professor Tania King, said the data provided the clearest picture the researchers could establish; however, more could be done to support the cause. “Research that might inform the development of industry-specific suicide-prevention programs has been hampered by a lack of historical data into rates of workplace-specific suicide,” she said. The report recommended that advocacy efforts focus on organisations such as MATES collaborating with other organisations such as Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) to advocate for the inclusion of more information relating to the topic.

Image credit: Peruphotart /

Glencore director of health, safety and training Kylie Ah Wong.

in conjunction with MATES, estimated that the suicide rate among mining workers is between 11 and 25 per 100,000, with men consistently shown to make up three-quarters of these deaths. “There is some evidence that the suicide rate among mining workers is increasing, and certainly the rate among mining workers for the period of 2012–2019 was significantly higher than that of other workers,” the report stated. “This provides precautionary evidence that suicide mortality among mining workers may be of concern, particularly given the likely under-counting of suicides among mining workers. “There is a clear imperative for more comprehensive industry and occupational information, and there

While the statistics are confronting, it is important to research ways suicide can be prevented.


“The 2014 SPA position statement on work and suicide prevention was an instructive example of SPA’s interest in this topic,” the report stated. “An update of this statement by SPA might be considered if MATES wished to offer to collaborate on this effort.” The report also recommended that greater information on mine work subcategories be more readily available. “Information about the resource sub-category within mining would enable the assessment of whether conditions and exposures unique to specific types of resources and mines appear to elevate risk,” the report stated. When Safe to Work sat down with Glencore director of health, safety and training Kylie Ah Wong in September, she was clear that the company values the wellbeing of its employees, who are the pillar of its success. “We know that when someone is struggling with mental health issues, they’re unlikely to seek help,” she said. “Our employees look out for one another’s safety every shift, and

that sense of camaraderie is deeply embedded in the mining industry. “It makes sense to use that same approach when it comes to looking out for the mental health and wellbeing of our workmates.” As a founding partner of MATES, Glencore has supported the program since its inception, rolling out the initiative through its 16 sites. The programs have been highly successful, training over 9000 employees. MATES chief executive Chris Lockwood said the program rests on a foundation of trust. “It’s built on the trust of those working in the industry, as well as those managing the operations that this program is real and it works,” he said. “Mental health impacts the entire mining industry, so we all need to take the time to learn the signs and know what to do. And we know we can achieve this in the miner sector because we have an evidence-based approach from MATES in Construction that shows it works.

“The program has been tweaked based on workers’ feedback, and that ensures it is speaking the language of miners and is relevant to their needs.” According to the report, this is a positive step toward curbing suicide risk in the mining industry due to the need for advocacy to drive the collection of the data. But perhaps most importantly, programs like MATES bring a breath of fresh air into the industry by the simple act of talking about mental health. “One of the biggest shifts I’ve seen is the willingness of the workers to have honest conversations with each other about how they’re feeling and recognising it is nothing to be afraid of,” Lockwood said. “We’re flipping the script with the program to have more of those conversations, so blokes can recognise their mate is struggling and start a conversation to help him. “We’re giving people extra tools in their toolkit so they feel confident to provide support to a mate when needed.”

MATES in Mining helps employees talk openly about mental health.


Industry events QMIHSC is Australia’s largest mining safety conference.



eld over an expansive four days, the 2023 iteration of the Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference (QMIHSC) provided the industry with an opportunity to exchange information, network and foster proactive health and safety management techniques. This year’s theme was ‘Inside looking out’, and the conference featured safety speakers and exhibitions from across the mining industry – and beyond. Larnie Mackay, general manager of MyneSight, part of the Metarock Group, chaired the 2023 event. She reflected on the event’s success while speaking with Safe to Work.

organisational structure coming up at the end of the conference to say how fantastic the four days were. They said there were so many lessons learnt, so many tools they could take back home, because the speakers were so rounded and covered so many different topics, that really every day, topic and speaker was engaging.



The most exciting part was the number of people from all spectrums of the

The conference covered a raft of different topics, both present and coming in the future. One of the big ones was challenging the way we think about automation and artificial intelligence. We looked at the technology in a positive light and heard how it can be used to remove people from harm’s way, as opposed to just thinking it’s here to take people’s jobs. There were lots of really great examples of how people have

been utilised in new roles in the automation age. Psychological safety was another major focus. We had some speakers talk very candidly about dealing with depression and anxiety. Others spoke about learning from the past to prevent avoidable accidents. There were something confronting speakers in this space, who many years on still pay the physical price for preventable injuries they sustained at work. Across the board, safety is not just the individual person’s responsibility – it’s everybody’s responsibility. Responsibility was really the thread that tied everything together at the conference.

WERE THERE ANY STANDOUTS? Honestly, there are too many to name. Rachel Robertson (author of Leading on the Edge) delivered


QMIHSC 2023 saw record attendance.

a phenomenal speech about the expedition she led to Antarctica, and how she managed her team in such a harsh environment. Natalee Johnston (Royal Australian Navy helicopter pilot) spoke about her experience as the Navy’s first female helicopter pilot, and balancing career with the stresses of life. We had Natasha Nunn (NeuroPower Group principal consultant), who spoke around neurodiversity and understanding that we might have people that work with us, and different ways we might employ to better engage with these workers. Mike Lockwood (Air Traffic Solutions managing director) spoke about air traffic control and how such a high-risk industry transformed itself over two or three decades to the incredibly safe place that it’s now at. It was just such a fantastic conference. Our exhibitors were brilliant, and the networking was

fantastic. We had such a different diverse group of people come together to chat about safety.


Absolutely. This year we really kicked it up a few levels and gave the mining industry the opportunity to have a look at the military, at aviation, and a number of other industries. We received feedback from a number of delegates to the effect of: they don’t know where we found the calibre of speakers that we found, but everybody bought something from outside the industry, which challenged their thinking and made them reflect on themselves. And it wasn’t just about looking outside at other industries; the conference carried the double message of looking inside of ourselves as well. It’s about our industry, but it’s also about learning from others,

reflecting, and incorporating that in our own lives. I think we hit the mark across the board.


We are constantly talking with the industry so we can make sure our conference is relevant and touching those health and safety pressure points. And if anyone in the industry has something specific that they want us to research and be able to provide information at the next conference, I’d encourage them to reach out through the QMIHSC website or to find me on LinkedIn. We’ve already received some brilliant ideas from delegates to direct our search for information and presenters for next year. We will be kicking off that search soon as we prepare for 2024. This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.


Dust control



here is little doubt that coal dust operations are more highly scrutinised and regulated than other areas of bulk material handling – and with good reason. Coal operations come with wellknown associated risks to workers’ health, as well as the relatively high danger of explosions. The fact coal production is increasing in Australia means progressively more workers are involved, further emphasising the focus on safety. Controlling dust makes sense from an operational aspect, as it can foul rolling components, machinery and equipment air intakes, requiring extra parts and labour for cleaning and maintenance. These factors increase the cost of operation when there are methods and technologies designed to control and suppress dust emissions before they become airborne. While minimising the amount of dust created in processing is a seemingly obvious way to reduce coal dust emissions, it isn’t always practical or easy to accomplish. There are many dust sources that have to be managed

depending on the extraction, haulage, and storage methods. Most of the dust contained in bulk materials is from crushing or grinding to reduce particle size, and from transfers in the production process. The hydrophobic properties of coal also make it harder to control dust emissions using water without the addition of expensive surfactant additives.

Impact cradles can reduce damage and prolong belt life over standard impact idlers.

A well-designed transfer chute should significantly reduce dust emissions.


Dust is difficult to control in surface operations because the processes take place in the open air and the fracturing of the in-situ material creates dust. The bulk material is typically loaded into haul trucks at the point of extraction and taken to a conveyor transfer point or a crusher. As the material is dumped and crushed, the most effective dust control is water or, if the addition of water to the material is a problem, foam. Water is not as effective as foam but is often preferred due to the cost of foaming chemicals. There are some residual effects of water, but they are usually short-lived.

In underground extraction, water is often used at the face and conveyor transfer points to control dust. When water cannot be used, methods such as in mining salts, ventilation and modular dust collection are options.


Conveyors are a major source of dust emissions, but they can also aid in reducing fugitive dust. For example, in the case of pit crushing and overland conveying in a surface coal mine, there is reduced total site dust generation compared to truck haulage. Coal is easily windswept and, in some cases, may require an enclosed conveyor belt system such as a fold belt, pipe conveyor, or air-supported conveyor. When the haulage involves a conveyor belt, dust generation is a function of the loading and discharge, as well as how it is managed. Closed conveyors are very useful for preventing contamination and protecting the cargo from the elements, but they still have to be opened and closed for loading and discharge. Some common passive dust reduction strategies:


• Shorter or directed drops – transfer chutes over loading zones that decrease the impact of cargo on the belt below reduce the amount of turbulence within the loading zone, lowering the amount of dust released. • Managing the flow – experienced engineers recommend a sloping system that slows material to minimise impact and induced air, as well as loads in the centre of the belt for less shifting and improved belt training. • Preventing belt sag between idlers – using an impact cradle with shock-absorbent polyurethane bars reduces impact strain on the belt and creates an even belt plane with no gaps between the skirting and belt. • Fully enclosed transfers – by completely enclosing the loading and settling zone, dust is contained. Items like dust curtains and dust bags can then be added to control airflow and capture dust.


There are many suggestions for belt speeds based on the properties of the bulk material. ANSI/CEMA 550-2003 Classification and Definitions of Bulk Materials lists miscellaneous properties of bulk materials that would contribute to a decision to use a lower belt speed and may be windswept as part of its classification code system: • B-1 aeration-fluidity • B-6 degradable-size breakdown • B-8 dusty • B-20 very light and fluffy With lower speeds, the belt width has to increase to convey the same tonnes per hour, creating a dilemma of capital cost versus operating cost. Many sources suggest belt speeds of 2m per second or less for reducing dust generation.

If a conveyor is being designed for an extended life, it is worth comparing the capital savings from a higherspeed belt to the long-term costs of maintenance, clean-up and safety. Foundations for Conveyor Safety, a comprehensive textbook for safe conveyor operation written by Martin Engineering, provides a detailed methodology and data sources for including direct and indirect costs in the financial analysis.


At a critical speed, the bulk material loses contact with the belt at the idler and is launched into the air, falling back onto the belt at a slightly lower speed than the belt. This splashing action opens the profile, creating induced air flows that can release dust. It also creates turbulence, impact and degradation as the material lands and returns back up to belt speed. Keeping the belt sag to one per cent between idlers is a frequent specification. The concerns in conveyor design from these belt sag phenomena are most often the added belt tensions required to overcome the frictional losses.

Often overlooked in a dust reduction strategy are design choices that can minimise dust creation from the undulations of the material as it is transported on the belt. Managing belt tension so the sag between idlers is minimised reduces the effects of material trampling and splash. Material trampling is the particleto-particle movement created by the change in the bulk material profile as it goes over the idlers. Trampling and splash can be a source of dust generation given the large number of times the cargo passes over idlers every hour. The higher the belt tension, the lower the trampling loss.


Controlling dust at the storage location represents another challenge. Large stockpiles are impractical to enclose inside buildings and are often stacked out and reclaimed by machinery that generates additional fines. Open stockpiles are subject to the weather, often degrading upon exposure to the atmosphere, and some materials will revert to a solid state when exposed to rain or humidity.

Enclosed conveyors reduce exposure to wind with fewer dust emissions leaving the site.


Dust control

Uncontrolled drops into stockpiles can spread dust for long distances.

Discharge onto the pile is a source of dust release as the material flows from the delivery equipment, often a conveyor, onto the pile. Cascading or telescoping chutes can be used to reduce the release of dust, but if the material is easily broken, the drop height from discharge to the pile or between cascade shelves can create additional dust from impact degradation. Site layout can be an unexpected source of dust emissions. For example, if a slope conveyor going from the stockpile into a storage bin or building is orientated in line with the prevailing winds in a high-wind location, the wind flowing up the conveyor will overwhelm dust-control strategies by creating positive pressure throughout the conveyor enclosures.

The amount of dust that can become airborne is directly proportional to the volume and speed of the airflow through the transfer point. If the openings in the chute are restricted to the practical minimum, the inward airflow is restricted. A useful dust control strategy is to capture the material shortly after discharge and keep the stream coalesced as tightly as possible to reduce induced air.

A number of discrete element modelling software programs are specifically created for the design of material flow through chutes, and some specialty chute manufacturers specialise in these techniques. These chutes work best with materials of consistent size and adhesive and cohesive properties like coal. Wear on the chute surfaces may be accelerated but this can be offset with a maintenance-friendly design for quick and easy change out of wear surfaces. Australian mining companies often emphasise planning the mine to maximise profitability without paying enough attention during the initial feasibility studies on how the layout can affect dust creation and emissions. Conveyor transfer points have a history of being drafted rather than designed, but design tools are now readily available to address these critical details. Addressing particulate emissions early with modern techniques and equipment allows operators to formulate a detailed dust plan and create a safe and efficient operation.


If the material stream can be constrained so it doesn’t open up when discharged, the amount of air induced into the transfer point is reduced. As the material particles spread out, it creates a low-pressure area in the spaces, which induces airflow into the transfer point.

Coal is never going to be a 100 per cent dust-free operation, but good transfer point design can make it safe.





Brake systems



t takes a lot of torque to move some of the mining industry’s biggest toys, like conveyors and grinding mills. But while a conveyor that won’t get started is a hindrance to production, a conveyor that won’t stop is a mortal hazard. According to Johnson Industries sales manager Gil Sondraal, industrial brakes are like an insurance policy – they are often used as fail-safes on industrial equipment or play a secondary role in operation – and it’s for that reason that they don’t always occupy the front of miners’ minds. But when the time comes that those brakes are needed, mine sites want to know they’re covered. That’s where Johnson Industries, an industrial brake expert with an expanding presence in Australia, comes in. The company’s brakes can be found at most of the major mine sites around Australia, in applications like

Johnson Industries brakes fitted to a grinding mill.

ball mills, semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mills, conveyor systems, wheel grippers on rail systems, and general crane applications. “We specialise in making custom brakes for larger industrial applications,” Sondraal said. “Our goal is to make our brakes as reliable as possible, minimising downtime a mine may experience due to faulty brakes. “What sets our brakes apart from competitors is that they have selfadjusters, meaning they automatically adjust to compensate for any air gaps. “Some of these grinding mills run 24–7 and don’t go down very often. To reflect this, we incorporate a toggle linkage in our brakes, so as the lining wears down the brake automatically adjusts so the torque stays the same.” This feature removes the headache of having to manually adjust industrial brakes, which means sites can minimise machine downtime.

Though larger machines like SAG mills require hydraulic brakes, other assets can be more flexible. Johnson Industries stocks a wide range of brake types, including hydraulic, air and electric (AC and DC). “One thing we’ve noticed in the last couple of years is a lot of customers are finding hydraulic brakes to be difficult to work with,” Sondraal said. “Not so much because they’re worried about oil spills, but primarily because they’re having a tough time finding people to service hydraulic systems. “A lot of mines prefer to use electric brakes where applicable. That way they don’t have to worry about oil spills, and electricians are easier for sites to come by than hydraulic mechanics.” But Sondraal said it’s not enough to simply install a quality brake; the most essential part is the up-keep. “In a typical conveyor, the braking system is hardly ever used – only when overspeed and overload conditions occur, or if there’s a mechanical failure in the drive train,” Sondraal said. “A lot of accidents occur when the braking system is not used very often. “It’s comparable to your car: if you park it for a year you’ll be lucky if it starts up again, but if you drive every day you’re not going to have that issue. “It’s the same with industrial brakes. They deteriorate faster if they’re not used and maintained. So what we try to instil in our customers is that even though you’re not going to use this brake all the time, you still have to pay more attention to maintenance than you did before.”


T N • • •

Johnson Industries supports its customers with recurring check-ups and training to keep its brakes running smoothly – and safely. “We like to back our customers with consistent inspections of our equipment, which we think is very valuable,” Sondraal said. “Not only do we inspect the equipment to make sure it’s set up properly and make any necessary adjustments but we also train people on site. “Workers move locations from year to year, so through regular training we can ensure sites aren’t losing that knowledge of how to manage our equipment. The brakes are the last line of defence. If there is a mechanical fault in a machine, only the only thing left to prevent catastrophe is the brake system. It’s very important that the people who work on the brakes

A high-speed conveyor brake from Johnson Industries.

should be well trained, and the brakes themselves regularly maintained.” Johnson Industries has a strong presence in the US and is currently on the hunt for a foothold to further establish itself in the Australian market.

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With its premium-quality braking systems, backed by careful and considerate expertise, Johnson Industries is helping keep the wheels of the Australian mining industry turning – just not too fast.

Workplace safety



ostering a safer and inclusive workplace culture has been at the forefront of the mining industry for some time. With the introduction of the Respect at Work Act, the legal landscape is changing, and online compliance training provider Safetrac is here to help mining companies navigate the future.


The Respect at Work Act was introduced in December 2022, requiring employers to adopt

proactive measures to prevent sexual harassment, sex-based discrimination and related victimisation. This covers not only the actions and behaviour of the employer but also their employees and others who work for them. Under previous laws, employers could be held vicariously liable for this behaviour where they failed to make all reasonable steps to prevent the behaviour from occurring. This is still the case; however, this is the first time the law has enforced a positive duty on employers. This means employers

need to proactively take action to prevent unacceptable behaviour relating to sexual harassment in their workplace, regardless of whether a complaint has been made. As part of the changes, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been empowered with the ability to inquire into, and report on, issues of systemic unlawful discrimination or suspected systemic unlawful discrimination. “The AHRC can now provide non-compliant employees with recommendations. They might be

The law now enforces a positive duty on employers to adopt proactive measures against workplace sexual harassment.


issued with compliance notices or become subject to court orders,” Safetrac head of customer success Helen Jamieson told Safe to Work. “The AHRC can also issue enforceable undertakings, which has never happened in this space before. It’s really quite significant.” Owing to the gravity of the changes, employers have been given a one-year grace period to demonstrate this positive duty of care. That door will close on December 13 this year, at which time the AHRC will commence its new responsibilities. As the deadline for compliance with the Respect at Work Act approaches, Safetrac is here to help miners prepare.


Safetrac provides engaging and legally updated online compliance training in Australia to ensure workers understand their legal obligations and can pass the rigorous requirements of a regulatory investigation carried out by a body like the AHRC. To help mining companies comply with the upcoming legislative change, Safetrac offers many courses that explain the nature of the Respect at Work Act is and how it will affect them.


This 45-minute online course was designed to provide company leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the new workplace guidelines, both legally and practically. It will help leaders understand the foundational principles underpinning the positive duty; the standards defining new workplace expectations relating to the positive duty, including a clear path for proactive prevention; and how to successfully implement these principles in an organisation.

The training focuses on eliminating sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination, while aligning with the positive duty of care under the Sex Discrimination Act.


This 45-minute online course empowers an organisation’s leaders and managers with insights and knowledge to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace through different strategies and a step-by-step guidance. Participants in the course will go over an array of topics such as power dynamics within the workplace, making the physical workplace safer and how to handle complaints brought forward. This course and the former are specifically structured in their delivery, meaning both were designed for participants who have little to no prior knowledge of the subject matter. Participants will be guided through the subject matter one step at a time, making the content accessible to everyone.


A more generalised Respect@Work compliance course is also available for all employees, contractors and volunteers. This 20-minute session will help participants understand and identify sexual harassment and gender-based harassment behaviours, as well as recognise how they can become an active bystander if such behaviour arises. This simplified course type is structured but can also be delivered in a ‘short burst’ way, where learners can gain a quick summary of specific areas of compliance and read

industry-specific content for a range of sectors and industries.


To consolidate the Respect at Work Act courses offered, Safetrac’s Respect@Work toolkit assists companies in complying with the new legislation, educating staff members and leaders in understanding their new responsibilities under the law, and ensuring a company is confident in reporting progress made to the AHRC by December. The toolkit consists of a suite of Safetrac courses and a compliance learning management system, which will help the company manage compliance training, policies, surveys and reporting through a single platform. Companies can also purchase the online training courses via a SCORM file to upload into their own learning management system (LMS). Ongoing and recurring training is only one critical aspect to complying with the new Respect@Work laws. To ensure compliance, Safetrac recommends organisations be able to track progress, survey staff to understand the current state of sexual harassment within the workplace and educate leaders. When it comes to compliance, Safetrac says the key is to ensure that training is recurring. All Safetrac courses are available online and can be accessed on any device connected to internet, and any progress made in the course is tracked – making learning about workplace related topics easy for any company. Through reliable and up-todate compliance training, available in various formats to suit different learners, Safetrac is helping mining companies boost a culture of compliance and stay compliant.


Communications Sepura communication devices are perfectly tailored to the harsh conditions of Australian mines.

Loud and clear



eliable communication is the backbone of safety on a mine site, helping workers to communicate mission-critical information. Consequently, mining companies don’t play around when it comes to communication technology. Miners need surety that they can reach any worker in any part of an operation, whenever they need to. Many of these networks throughout the industry are based on the TETRA (terrestrial trunked radio) standard, providing narrowband voice and data services to users, with a high standard of service and exacting requirements for availability, reliability and security. TETRA is a tried-and-true means of communication, but technology, as it tends to do, is evolving. Mining operations have an increasing need for data services such as video, access to online tools or databases, and the ability to upload or download large data items. These tasks typically need a higher bandwidth than narrowband systems can deliver, and require broadband data services, such as LTE (long-term evolution), to satisfy this evolving demand.

But these new platforms don’t yet offer equivalent performance, with standards being hardened and devices meeting these standards being developed. Requirements such as mission-critical voice, direct mode operation and end-to-end encryption are key areas of focus. There are also challenges with coverage. Sepura is bridging the gap between the reliability of TETRA and the modern bells and whistles of LTE with the SCU3 dual-mode device. The SCU3 has been designed for use in vehicles and/or fixed office locations and supports TETRA for mission-critical voice with data through LTE or Wi-Fi connectivity. The dual-mode option allows sites to run hybrid fleets, with vehicles and control rooms using the dual-mode device and frontline staff using TETRA hand-held portable devices. “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 Rafferty said. “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.” The hybrid SCU3 can be used alongside Sepura’s existing TETRA portable radios. These hand-held devices have been purpose-built for the mining industry with loud, clear audio and robust construction. The resilient design protects the audio components from harmful dust, including magnetic dust, which is common on mine sites. By making the hybrid SCU3 compatible with these devices, Sepura is keeping its customers’ total cost of ownership and training requirements to a minimum. Sepura’s SCU3 combines the mission-critical voice of TETRA with the high-speed capabilities of LTE, giving mine sites the confidence they need to take communication to the next level.



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ydraulic wrenches are staples on a mine site, so it stands to reason that impact sockets are as well. But as hydraulic wrenches become more powerful, how can a site ensure those that work with them remain safe while still reaching high rates of production? Stuart Jenkins, national account manager at Impact Tools, has the answer. “Action High Torque Impact Sockets are specifically manufactured for high torque applications,” Jenkins told Safe to Work. “They have been tested to withstand a specific torque rating, which is pressed into the side of every Action High Torque Impact Socket.” Having the torque rating pressed into the side of the socket is a vote of confidence from the company. “Other impact sockets may go close to that rating, but the manufacturer

The gold colour helps Action High Torque Impact Sockets stand out in a busy toolbox.

is not prepared to put their name to whatever the maximum torque rating is,” Jenkins said. “But the Action High Torque Impact Sockets have been tested by the manufacturer. If it says that it will withstand 9500 newton-metres, then it will withstand that.” Jenkins knows that Action High Torque Impact Sockets provide peace of mind for the user, and nowhere is this peace of mind more important than on a mine site. “Operators know that they can push the Action High Torque Impact Socket to its specified limit, and that gives them confidence that there is no risk of injury to the person using the tool,” Jenkins said. “Someone could be putting a wheel on a tipper and that wheel might have 20 or 30 bolts that are required to be tightened to a specific torque. With the Action High Torque Impact Sockets, that specific toque rating can be achieved whilst maintaining the integrity of the impact socket. Safety and productivity often go hand-in-hand on site, and the Action High Torque Impact Socket has taken this into account. “Each Action High Torque Impact Socket is stamped with the safe maximum torque rating – it’s not laser etched ,” Jenkins said. “That means there’s no chance of it fading so a site won’t ever have to guess the rating.”

Action High Torque Impact Sockets have the torque rating pressed into the side of the socket.

Action High Torque Impact Sockets are drop forged from chrome-molybdenum alloy steel, heat treated and surface hardened for maximum durability, and carry a lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship. They are all the same length (85mm) to alleviate offset to suit fixedlength reaction arms. Adding to the intrigue of the Action High Torque Impact Socket is its signature gold colour. “It’s gold for a reason,” Jenkins said. “It stands out when compared to a standard impact socket, which is traditionally black in colour. “If I want to use an Action High Torque Impact Socket, I don’t have to think too much – I’ll just get the gold one out of the box.” Having been in the business for 15 years, Impact Tools knows a quality impact socket when it sees one. “We are experts in impact sockets,” Jenkins said. “And that’s where this socket comes into play, as it’s the only impact socket in Australia that is torque-rated. “We’re really trying to be that point of difference for the mining industry, and we do this by recognising the important aspects of what keeps a mine safe and thinking about how we can help make these sites as safe as possible.”


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