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31Accidents on Continuous Miners during Maintenance Work Underground

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Brief Description of Incident/Accident & Description of Consequences/Outcomes:

Since 1996 in the underground coal industry, there have been two fatal accidents and one very serious accident (double amputation) all associated with maintenance work carried out underground on continuous miners.

While the most recent accidents, one in Queensland (22/05/99) and one in New South Wales (02/07/99) are still under investigation, it appears that the accidents have sufficient common elements to cause considerable concern.

All machines were Joy 12 CM 12 continuous miners

All work was being carried out in the vicinity of the working face

All work was maintenance work

One accident, and possibly all accidents, involved the machine operating in a manner that was not expected by the operator

Identified Root Causes:

LTA maintenance work method

Energy Type(s) Involved:

Uncontrolled movement of equipment

Root & Contributing Cause(s):

LTA equipment design

LTA hazard identification

LTA risk assessment

Stated or Potential Consequence(s):


Preventative/Recommended/Accepted Steps of Risk Mitigation, Points of Interest:

That all mines, as a matter of urgency, review their maintenance procedures. Recognition needs to be made of the complexity of the total control system when remote control, manual control and the alternatives introduced by various positions of rotary switches are considered.

It may be unrealistic to expect that persons who only operate some functions occasionally remain fully aware of all aspects of such a complex system. Human factors such as fatigue add to the problem.

For the above reasons, positive isolation of those machines during maintenance work is strongly recommended and considered essential.


Queensland Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI)


Here are the results.


Reference Type:

Safety Bulletin #4

Mine Type:

Underground Mine > Underground Coal Mine


Potential & Kinetic - Mechanical





Australia, Queensland

ICAM Categories

Organisational Factors

• LTA design

• LTA equipment design

• LTA hardware design

• LTA hazard analysis/job safety analysis

• LTA work method

Task or Environmental Conditions


Individual or Team Actions

• LTA work method

Failed or Absent Defences


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