Flawed OH&S equipment puts lives at risk

Because safety is paramount on minesites, mining companies are seeking alternative solutions to outdated, flawed and dangerous equipment to avoid injury for their staff and contractors.

In one particular instance, engineering company Downer had a person sustain an injury to their eye when immense pressure from a grease fitting dislodged their safety glasses and hard hat.

To keep a fleet running smoothly onsite, service vehicles provide lubricants to all mobile equipment. One of the supplied lubricants, grease, can be supplied at very high pressure, up to 5000 psi.

A high-pressure injection injury often results in a serious medical emergency and can be common on mining sites, sometimes resulting in the amputation of limbs.

Downer saw this as a major risk for the company and as a result proactively asked Australian Diversified Engineering (ADE) to create a solution that would eliminate the hazard without adding any additional steps to the greasing task.

The solution had to be simple, cost effective and be fitted to the existing fleet of service equipment.

To design an effective solution, ADE researched all aspects of the task at hand, including understanding the actions of the workers, the existing safety controls and the greasing hardware.

The research revealed the usual protective equipment, still currently being used on mine sites, was not protecting the workers and the standard process of removing the hose from a greasing nipple in the case of a blockage was intrinsically flawed and dangerous.

“ADE undertook a thorough research of the protective equipment currently in use and found it to be inadequate offering very little protection to service persons,” ADE Sales Manager Eric Tomicek said.

“Not only is this a big risk for service persons, but also highlighted a massive risk for mining companies who need to provide safety for their staff.”
The solution ADE provided is an easy-to-use device that removes the pressure from the hose, removing the hazard.

ADE Manufacturing Manager Daniel Kirk said the device design means it was retrofitted to existing systems and was compatible with most industry standard components.

“We engineered a very easy to use grease pressure release device which is remote operated using a garage door style remote with a green lamp indicating when the system is active,” he said.

Since completion, Downer has installed the remote grease pressure release system to their entire fleet of service vehicles.

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