A recent haul truck accident at Rio Tinto`s Hunter Valley coal operation has caused the industry to focus on the occurrence of dump truck accidents and safety once again.
The driver in this incident was lucky to escape with just a shoulder injury ““ it could have been far more serious. An investigation is already underway to identify what can be changed to avoid these types of accidents happening again.
The incident happened on night shift, when the vehicle backed over a bench and rolled down a hill.
Not all dump truck accidents have such a modest outcome
In fact, so far in 2014 there have been more fatal accidents in the mining industry than the same period in 2012-13. The causes of these and other incidents and near-misses needs to be thoroughly investigated to see whether industry culture, increasing production targets, safety procedures not being followed by workers, or training procedures need to be looked into. Despite pre-start checks and pre-shift ‘toolbox’ talks, it seems there are still accidents occurring.
More accidents happen on night shift than during the day, and for a number of different reasons. However at any time of day, following correct procedures is vital in avoiding accidents and incidents.
Dump truck training
Dump truck training in particular should include learning to drive in ALL conditions.
Night, day, in the wet, on steep inclines, on dry roads and on slippery surfaces.
When new starter are looking to work in the mines, some training companies pressured their trainers to deliver a qualification as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
Peter Evans, managing director of training firm Industry Pathways, agreed, but said larger mining firms in his experience demanded more training, not less.
“Mining companies would know if trainers were cutting corners,” he said, “so they could not deflect blame”.
“There are definitely trainers out there who haven`t got a lot of experience,”ť he said.
“At Industry Pathways, trainees needed to pass breathalyser tests, wear proper safety clothing and use correct radio communication.
“Our dump truck courses are conducted on an authentic mine site with trainee drivers experiencing night, day, wet and dry conditions.”ť
A Queensland Resources Council spokesman said statistics still showed the state mining industry as one of the safest in the world and went on to say companies relied on accredited training organisations to supply qualified workers but also to test workers to ensure they are up to standard.