Plant access systems | Resources Safety & Health Queensland Skip to content
Print notice
Alert Banner

Coal Inspectorate | Alert | No.430 V 1 | 12 July 2022

Plant access systems

What happened?

A Coal Mine Worker (CMW) was checking the emulsion tank. The CMW was making their way back down the ladder (Fixed plant access system) with three points of contact when the second step from the top failed on one side. No CMWs sustained any injuries. The investigation identified multiple fatigue fractures to all the weld joints for the step rung to the ladder side rails.

How did it happen?

  • The ladder was constructed from light gauge materials.
    • The ladder, step / rung material was 2mm thick.
    • The ladder, side rail material was 50mm x 50mm x 5mm material.
  • The overhang from the step to the ladder side rail permitted torque at the weld points.
  • The ladder has a high utilisation, being used two to four times a day.
  • The ladder has been in service for 10 years.
  • There was no maintenance strategy in place for the ladder.

Key issues

  • Although there was an inspection in place for the compound, there were no structural inspections in place for the ladder (access system).
  • No visual inspections for the ladder (access system).
  • No non-destructive testing (NDT) in place for the ladder (access system).


All Site Senior Executives should:

  • ensure that all fixed plant access systems be audited:
    • to identify that the access system construction is fit for purpose.
    • to ensure the risk from using the access system is as low as reasonably achievable.
    • to identify that a competent maintenance strategy for the access system is in place and is effective.
  • refresh CMWs on:
    • how to identify defects on fixed plant access systems.
    • use of the defect management system within the Safety and Health Management System (SHMS)

All operators should:

  • stop and visually inspect fixed plant access systems before proceeding to access the fixed plant.
  • follow the defect management system within the SHMS if you identify any issues.

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 Jacques le Roux - Chief Inspector – Coal

Contact: Mick Scully, Inspector of Mines , 0459 878 917

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.