Respirable silica and dust exposure monitoring
What happened?
The Petroleum and Gas (P&G) Inspectorate has undertaken proactive worker exposure monitoring in collaboration with Queensland Government’s Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station (Simtars). This involved conducting personal respirable dust and silica sampling at two hydraulic stimulation work sites. Hydraulic stimulation involves handling and pumping large volumes of silica sand. During the monitoring a number of workers wore sampling devices that monitored their personal respirable dust and quartz (silica) exposures during their work shifts.

What is silica?
Silica is a mineral found in the earth’s crust. Quartz, the crystalline form of silica, has been associated with lung disease and is present in soil, bricks, sandstone, concrete and sand.

Exposure limits
The Safe Work Australia Workplace Exposure Standard for respirable crystalline silica is currently 0.1 mg/m3 for a 40 hour work week. Best practice aims to keep exposures as low as reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of getting a silica-related disease.. 

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Investigation Information Release
Non-work-related death

Overview
A visitor attending the Maules Creek Mine Coal Handling and Processing Plant was found unconscious outside an administration building on 16 May 2019. Mine workers administered first aid to the visitor and he was air lifted to Tamworth Hospital. He died two days later.

The mine
The Maules Creek Mine is about 18 kilometres north east of Boggabri. The mine produces thermal and metallurgical coals, which is transported by rail to Newcastle for export. The Maules Creek Mine is operated by Maules Creek Coal Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Whitehaven Coal Limited.

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MSHA
Close Call Alert

Surface – Iron Ore – On April 29, 2019, a miner suffered minor injuries when his haul truck traveled over the edge of a stock pile dump point causing the truck to roll onto its top. The driver was wearing a seat belt.

 

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Workers Evacuated After Gas Levels Rise
Causal investigation
Seventy workers were withdrawn from Metropolitan Colliery, an underground coal mine in Helensburgh, south of Sydney, on 21 March 2019 after carbon dioxide and methane levels increased unexpectedly to hazardous levels.

A supervisor on the longwall face initially detected increasing gas levels that appeared to be coming from floor cracks.

Supervisors continued to monitor gas levels, and when gas levels continued to increase, the decision was made to withdraw workers and remove power to the underground parts of the mine, in accordance with the mine’s procedures.

 

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Video Link

Fatal incident when excavator engulfed after pit wall failure

What happened?

On Wednesday 26 June 2019 at approximately 12.20pm, a 55 year old coal mine worker was fatally injured while he was operating an excavator at an open cut coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.  The coal mine worker was operating an excavator when an adjacent pit wall approximately 40 metres high suddenly failed. This resulted in fallen material engulfing the excavator and partially crushing the excavator’s cabin.

Queensland Police Service attended at the mine and handed over control of the scene to the Queensland Mines Inspectorate.

Equipment: Excavator (350 tonne)
Hazard: Gravity / Fall of ground
Cause: The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.

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Multipurpose tool carriers

A multipurpose tool carrier (MPTC) is a powered mobile plant fitted with a fixed or slewing superstructure with a boom. It is designed for moving loads and configured for the temporary attachment of a range of load handling devices including:

  • tines
  • buckets
  • work platforms
  • boom or jibs
  • hoists.

Within the industry sector MPTCs are often referred to as Manitou, tele-handler or telescopic handler.

All operators must be competent in handling MPTCs and have received training by a competent person. In some circumstances the operation of MPTCs may require a High Risk Work Licence (refer to table and image below).

 
 

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Fatality Alert
While blasting in a limestone operation, a rock was projected beyond the blast exclusion zone of 100 metres striking the roof of a ute which was parked 120 metres from the blast site. The ute sustained minor damage.

Workers were standing in the vicinity of the ute some 20 metres away.

Ejected matter travelled much further than anticipated. It was expected that material may move up to 50 metres from the blast, so an exclusion zone of 100 metres was set up. This rock travelled a much greater distance, possibly due to either an unseen fracture feature within the rock, or loose stone sitting upon the rock prior to the blast.

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