Tyre handling system wins Australian award for innovation

Thiess, one of Australasia’s largest construction, mining and services companies, has come up with an innovative solution for maintenance workers when handling tyres to win the Mining Council of Australia (MCA) National Award for Safety and Health Innovation for 2007. The industry has incurred a number of serious incidents including fatalities associated with changing large earthmover tyres. One of the recognised causes of these accidents has been tyres falling from the tyre handler and crushing the person fitting the tyre.

Changing large earthmover wheels and tyres is a frequent task on Thiess mine sites, and the problem was initially identified by people being placed in the ‘line of fire’ between the tyre handler and wheel. The Thiess Tyre Handler Protection Arms innovation is a simple and effective means of separating people from potentially harmful equipment.

Thiess was presented with the MCA National Safety and Health Innovation Award at a minerals industry dinner last night, held in conjunction with the Queensland Mining Industry Health & Safety Conference in Townsville, far-north Queensland. The awards aim to ensure that excellence and innovation at individual sites are recognised and that best practice, in terms of safety and health policy, systems and practice, is identified and promoted.

MCA Assistant Director of Safety and Health, Megan Davison congratulated all 13 finalists from across the country and the four award recipients, and emphasised that recognition of excellence and innovation was critical to achieving the minerals industry’s goal of zero fatalities and preventing workplace injuries and diseases. "Thiess’ Tyre Handler Protection Arms innovation represents the essence of the Innovation Awards – recognition of a risk and development of simple and effective solutions developed in consultation with on-site personnel," Davison said.

A further three innovations were rated extremely highly and awarded high commendations by the judging panel:

Dynamic Brake Testing Package – BMA Blackwater – Employees identified the need for a fully defined technique for dynamic brake testing of large loaded trucks. Across the industry many serious injuries have occurred from brake failures on trucks. The Australian standard had criteria for only brake testing a loaded truck. Under the new brake testing process, the trucks are initially tested while empty then, if they pass, they can be tested fully loaded.

Risk Elimination Training Aid Concept – BMA Norwich Park – This innovation has resulted in the successful development of the Risk Elimination Training Aid Concept, (RETAC) an inherently safe, state-of-the-art electronic training system that will replace an identified high-risk machinery operator training procedure in use at Norwich Park Mine.

Rock falls in open pit mines – Australian Bulk Minerals – This innovation reduces the risk to employees and equipment from rock fall events that increase with proximity to the highwall. Reduction in such exposure through various techniques has been achieved, with the goal of eliminating completely the risk of injury due to rock fall events in the mining industry.