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Coal Inspectorate | Alert | No.397 V 1 | 05 October 2021

Overburden drill falls onto light vehicle

What happened?

On 14 September 2021 three Coal Mine Workers were onboard a blasthole drill rig when it toppled onto its side impacting the front of the light vehicle. One worker suffered bruising injuries to the legs during the incident. The other two could have been seriously injured. 

How did it happen?

The drill rig was jacked to full height in preparation for repairs to a hydraulic hose. The mast had been left in the raised position.

Drill set up was on uneven ground.  As the maintainers left the cab to isolate the drill for the repairs, the machine has toppled over and the footpad on a stabiliser jack beneath the cab snapped off.

The operator stayed in the cab and self-extracted when the drill stopped moving. One maintainer exited the machine as it toppled, the second maintainer stayed on a walkway and when the drill came to a stop was caught between the walkway handrail and the adjacent parked light vehicle. 

Key issues

  • The drill mast was left in the raised position resulting in a potentially fatal risk control failure.
  • The ground was sloping and uneven, resulting in a potentially fatal risk control failure.
  • The drill was raised to its maximum extent on the stabilisers. This provided for an unstable condition, under which maintainers were planning to access under the drill to undertake repairs.



All Site Senior Executives should:

  • Determine that fatal risk controls are identified and implemented as part of the mine's critical risk program.
  • Ensure all blasthole drill operators and maintainers are trained and competent in the procedures for operation and maintenance of blasthole drills at the mine.
  • Ensure that the OEMs recommendations for blasthole drill maintenance and operation are considered when developing procedures.
  • Communicate this safety alert to Coal Mine Workers

Drill operators and maintainers should:

  • Follow OEM recommendations when jacking and walking blasthole drills.
  • Operate and maintain blasthole drills on grades as per the OEM recommendations.
  • When washing down for maintenance work, move the drill to level, dry ground before starting the maintenance.
  • Stow the drill mast before moving and for maintenance whenever possible.

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.

Authorised by Peter Newman - Chief Inspector – Coal

Contact: Steve Smith, Regional Inspector of Mines , 0436 658 225

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.