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Mines safety alert no. 347 | 22 September 2017 | Version 1

Coal mine worker fatally injured performing maintenance on a large excavator bucket

What happened?

A coal mine worker, who was fatally injured while carrying out repairs on a large excavator bucket (Fig. 1), had been arc air gouging a large wear plate on the bottom of the bucket so it could be removed in small sections.

How did it happen?

While the exact cause of the accident has not been determined at the time of publishing this alert, the stored energy in the plate, and the resulting uncontrolled spring action of the plate, impacted on the coal mine worker causing fatal injuries.


It is recommended that mines’ SSEs:

  1. Review the safety and health management system, including the following:
    1. Any procedures for the identification of stored energy situations
    2. Any standard operating procedures and associated controls for hot work, cutting and welding.
  2. Develop specific work instructions for dealing with similar wear packages.
  3. Ensure any permit systems include controls for stored energy hazards.
  4. Ensure 'line of fire' is identified.
  5. Ensure tasks that may identify critical hazards are fully assessed by appropriate persons.
  6. Make persons carrying out similar tasks aware of the extent of the stored energy hazard.
  7. Review and assess potential risk from different types of wear packages fitted to buckets.
  8. As part of bucket repair tasks ensure previous repair history is assessed before commencing work.
  9. Conduct comprehensive non-destructive testing to identify the condition of the bucket and include findings in the task assessment.

Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available. The information in this publication is what is known at the time of writing.

We issue Safety Notices to draw attention to the occurrence of a serious incident, raise awareness of risks, and prompt assessment of your existing controls.


This alert should be actioned by site senior executives (SSEs) and the need to recognise and quantify the magnitude of stored energy that maybe present when completing similar tasks communicated to workers.

Authorised by Shaun Dobson - A/Chief Inspector of Coal Mines

Contact: Creswick Bulger, Inspector of Mines , +61 7 4938 4605

Issued by Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines

Placement: Place this announcement on noticeboards and ensure all relevant people in your organisation receive a copy.