A mine worker was lucky to escape with this life when his vehicle left the road and collided with the mine entry gate. The metal arm of the gate ‘speared’ the vehicle, piercing the engine bay and firewall and entering the cabin, passing between the driver’s legs … right through to the back seat. (link to images at the end of this bulletin)
While the worker suffered a broken ankle in the incident, his injuries could have been fatal.
The worker was leaving the Mount Arthur Coal Mine, owned by BHP Billiton, 5km southwest of Muswellbrook, NSW.
The incident occurred at about 3.50 pm on Saturday, Christmas Eve 2016. The mine and access road had been hit by a storm on the day, with heavy rain and hail making driving conditions difficult.
The worker and a colleague had completed their shifts and left the site in the driver’s private vehicle. The driver lost control of his Triton ute as it aquaplaned approaching the entry gate. The vehicle left the road and travelled along the grass verge for almost 60 metres before colliding with the partially open gate. The gate speared the front of the vehicle, passing through the engine bay and firewall and into the cabin area.
The gate travelled between the worker’s legs and continued into the backseat. The vehicle then rolled onto the passenger side and stopped about 5 metres past the entry gate’s normal position.
The passenger was able to climb out of the overturned vehicle, however, the driver was left sitting on the metal gate, with his leg trapped in the cabin.
Eventually, the worker was freed and taken to hospital in Newcastle, where he underwent surgery to his fractured ankle.
Changed driving conditions
Following an investigation by the NSW resources regulator, it was found that at the time of the incident it was raining, with wind gusts more than 50 kmh, driving and road conditions were very poor. The regulator also determined that the latch-type gate retainer was inadequate and that the wind had partially closed the gate.
The regulator made recommendations that can be applied to any worksite that deals with motor vehicle traffic – light or heavy.
- erect signs specifying speed and road conditions;
- monitor, inspect and audit entry roads to ensure safe conditions;
- identify hazards and evaluate collision risks that fixed roadside objects, such as signs, poles, culverts, fences and entry gates, may pose if a vehicle makes contact with the object;
- consider site rules for trucks and private vehicles entering and leaving your site;
- identify and implement control measures using the ‘hierarchy of controls’; and
- consider modern roadside safety barriers and crash cushion systems to manage roadside hazards and to lessen the severity of a collision.
The regulator also notes that the installation of any crash barrier should be considered after investigating other methods of reducing the risk of collision with the hazard, if the hazard cannot be eliminated, substituted or re-engineered.
What you can do
The CoR Adviser, written by the transport lawyers at Holding Redlich (in plain English), deals exclusively with legislation, vehicle and worker safety and other matters pertaining to the Chain of Responsibility laws that affect companies and individuals working in the heavy vehicle transport and logistics industries.
The monthly newsletter has valuable information to ensure your business is compliant with CoR laws that deal with fatigue, mass and dimensions, loading and unloading practices, and speeding to make deadlines – all designed to keep all road-users safe.
If your business is involved with heavy vehicle transport you need to subscribe to the CoR Adviser to ensure you are kept up to date with the latest CoR developments (and there are many) to avoid any potential breaches and the penalties that accompany them.
Follow this link to see the amazing images of the ‘speared’ vehicle
Until next time,
The CoR Adviser Team