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Qld mining industry caught dozing off on dozer rollovers

15 August 2023

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) is cracking down on Queensland coal mines that are failing to protect workers from dozer rollover incidents.

The industry’s independent safety regulator will be targeting mines and suspending operations when the risk is not at an acceptable level, after noticing an increase in bulldozer rollovers.

RSHQ also has the option to refer mines to the Serious Incident Investigation Unit who can take legal action against the Site Senior Executive (SSE) and operator.

Just last week there were two similar incidents in as many days at Blackwater and Isaac Plains.

No one was injured, and those two incidents are currently under investigation.

A major cause of dozer rollovers, but not the only cause, is inadequate edge protection (also known in the industry as a berms or bund).

A berm, or bund, is a mound or wall made of dirt that acts as a safety barrier at open-cut mines. 

From January 2022 to August 2023, there have been 19 bulldozer rollovers at Queensland coal mines.

In the past year, RSHQ has issued 350 directives, covering all issues, to Queensland coal mines and suspended 53 (1 in 7) operations.

When operations are suspended at a site, the mine must show it has improved safety and removed hazards before being allowed to operate again.

“RSHQ is not afraid to take tough action against mines who won’t improve safety for workers, despite our continued effort to encourage best practice,” said RSHQ Acting Chief Inspector of Coal Mines Jacques le Roux.

“It’s going to take the regulator, union and mines all working together to fix this issue.

“Mining safety laws give stop-work powers to worker-elected safety representatives and union-appointed officials, similar to the regulator’s powers.

“If working conditions are unsafe, the law expects them to use those powers.”

Dozer rollover incidents are different to stockpile dozer incidents.

A mining stockpile is a pile of material or product, like coal, with a feed valve in the middle to funnel the product elsewhere.

When operating incorrectly, dozers have been known to fall into the voids above feed valves.

Earlier this year, RSHQ put the industry on notice after becoming aware of a rise in dozer stockpile incidents.

Since then, RSHQ has noticed a significant decrease in accidents surrounding stockpiles and dozers.

“It just goes to show when the industry takes a problem seriously, it can be improved,” said Mr le Roux.

Blackwater dozer rollover 1
Image: Blackwater dozer rollover
Blackwater dozer rollover 2
Image: Blackwater dozer rollover
Isaac Plains dozer rollover
Image: Isaac Plains dozer rollover


Amy McCann

0457 094 250


Last updated: 15 Aug 2023