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Mineral Mines & Quarries Inspectorate | Alert | No.448 V 1 | 03 June 2024

Loader falls into stope void over vertical edge

What happened?

On Wednesday 18th May 2024 an incident occurred at an underground metalliferous mine when a loader and its operator fell into a stope void from a tipping point. The operator was rescued from the stope unharmed. The operator was trying to place a fabricated steel stop log near to the stope open edge in preparation for backfilling operations.

How did it happen?

Inspectors are investigating this incident to identify its nature and cause, however, it is understood the loader operator drove beyond a safe operating area into an open stope, lost control and became stuck.

Key issues

  • Stope voids without adequate edge protection can lead to serious harm or death.
  • While this particular incident is still under investigation, factors that may contribute to incidents of this nature could include:
    • the manoeuvrability of machinery and operator’s visibility.
    • inadequate training or hazard awareness for persons involved.
    • the appropriateness of machinery for the activity.
    • signage/markup.

Recommendations

  • Risk assessments should consider the appropriateness of machinery being used, including whether its manoeuvrability is appropriate for the task and conditions; and whether it provides for adequate operator visibility to ensure sufficient awareness of the hazard.
  • Refresh training for personnel involved in activities associated with working at, or near, vertical edges. Also ensure initial training is up to standard.
  • The recommendations from a similar incident that caused a fatality are also relevant. See them here: Fatal accident - loader enters open stope | Resources Safety & Health Queensland (rshq.qld.gov.au)

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.

References and further information

Mines Alert no 228 - Fatal accident - loader enters open stope

Authorised by Trevor Brown - Chief Inspector – Mineral Mines & Quarries

Contact: Asok Sur, Inspector of Mines

Issued by Resources Safety & Health Queensland

Safety: This information is issued to promote safety through experience. It is not to be taken as a statement of law and must not be construed to waive or modify any legal obligation.
Placement: Place this announcement on noticeboards and ensure all relevant people in your organisation receive a copy, understand the content, findings and recommendations as applicable to their operation. SSEs should validate that recommendations have been implemented.