New Zealand’s top mine inspector has called on quarry and surface mine operators to lift their game when it comes to the use of vehicles.

Tony Forster, chief inspector – extractives at the government’s High Hazards Unit (HHU), has signalled the inspectorate will this year keep a closer eye on safety issues involving vehicles at quarry and mine sites.

“During the coming year, in addition to ensuring that all light vehicles are equipped with high ‘viz’ ‘buggy whips’ and radio communication, I would ask all surface mining and quarrying operations to look afresh at compliance with the HSE Act 1992 in terms of elimination and isolation of hazards associated with interaction between Heavy Vehicles (HV) and Light Vehicles (LV),” Forster says in a note to industry.

“HHU Mines Inspectors will be looking for evidence of ‘safety by design’ and much more effort being made in terms of physical separation on mine and quarry haul roads,” Forster says.

Forster, who started in the role early last year, was previously the United Kingdom’s principal inspector of mines.

Forster says before coming to New Zealand he was involved in several fatal incidents involving heavy vehicles crushing pedestrians.
“In one, the truck’s driver, who was out of his cab, was crushed by his own truck as it rolled forward. A double fatal incident at Pennyvenie opencast mine in Ayrshire, Scotland involved a heavy dump truck driven by a young, recently qualified driver, crushing a maintenance Land Rover, killing both occupants.”
He adds that the New South Wales Mine Safety Investigation Unit has also begun a formal investigation into the incident at Glencore’s Ravensworth mine that saw a large haul truck collide with and run over a light passenger vehicle, killing its female driver.

According to the latest quarterly statistics released by MinEx, surface operations, which include opencast mining, quarrying and surface operations for underground mines, incurred 11 lost time injuries and 21 medical treatment injuries from 2,037,593 hours recorded during the three months to September 2013.

The predominant causes of the injuries were:

  • falls (17 per cent);
  • vehicle (15 per cent),
  • mechanical (11 per cent) and
  • electrical (6 per cent).

MineEx is the national health and safety council for the New Zealand minerals industry.

Article reprinted with permission from Inside Resources at