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Mines safety bulletin no. 176 | 27 November 2018 | Version 1

Lightning strikes on rubber-tyred vehicles


With the storm season now on us in Queensland:
  • Mines should review their severe weather or lightning TARPS to take into account the risk to coal mine workers operating heavy rubber tyred vehicles during lightning storms.
  • Clearly, a heavy rubber tyred vehicle cannot be considered as a place of safety during a lightning storm, and care must be taken where these vehicles are parked during a lightning storm so as not to create a hazard for buildings or structures.
  • Mines Inspectors will be auditing mines’ severe weather and lightning procedures and TARPS during routine inspections.


The two incidents above indicate the risks to operators in heavy, rubber-tyred vehicles from pyrolysis due to lightning strikes. Whenever excess heat is developed in or applied to a tyre, it can initiate pyrolysis, (the decomposition of a substance by heat), within the tyre. This can cause a build-up of flammable gases and pressure within the tyre, which may rupture or explode. Further information can be found in Safety Bulletin 47 (Tyre fires, pyrolysis and explosions) available on the DNRME website.

Lightning strike incidents

During lightning storms, heavy, rubber-tyred vehicles should not be recommended as a place of safety.

A number of incidents have occurred on Australian minesites where lightning has struck rubber-tyred vehicles causing tyres to explode, demonstrating the enormous potential for significant harm when this occurs.
An incident at a Western Australian mine in January 2018, when an autonomous truck was stuck by lightning and the position 2 (front right) tyre exploded, resulted in extensive damage to the upper structure of the truck, including the cab. Significant Incident Report No. 260, issued from the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, contains more information.
Another incident occurred at a mine in NSW in 2008 when a parked rear dump truck was struck by lightning. This resulted in two tyres exploding (position 1 and 3) on the driver’s side of the truck, causing extensive damage to the truck and other equipment. Debris was thrown up to 275 m from the truck. A Safety Alert issued by the NSW Mine Safety Operations Branch was issued regarding this incident.

Authorised by Luca Rocchi - Chief Inspector of Mines

Contact: Les Marlborough, Regional Inspector of Mines , +61 7 4999 8510

Issued by Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy

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