October 29, 2018

Structural Integrity – Are Your Structures Safe?

Structural Integrity

Structural Integrity – The Mine Safety Inspector is coming!

Do you, or your mine site clients, have a “safe working environment”? Does anyone?

Accidents happen. And when they do, there’s an enquiry. And when there’s an enquiry, there’s almost always a fine to an employer for “failing to provide a safe working environment”.

It’s tough to “provide a safe working environment” but there’s no concessions if you don’t have a proactive structural integrity program.

What do I mean by proactive?

Well, the same system most mines have for their equipment to ensure the plant stays running, but applied to the structures supporting it.

Accidents in Mining Sites

“Accidents” continue to happen in mine sites across the country.

Tanks have ruptured, bridge cranes have collapsed, so too have stackers. Bins have crashed to the ground, hoppers have landed on conveyors – the list is actually endless.

Structural Integrity

Even when you’ve got a regular inspection program there are things that get missed, and things that get found but don’t get fixed in time.

Apart from having regular inspections by qualified and experienced structural engineers, there’s plenty you can do to minimise the risk and maintain a safe working environment.

Here's Some Simple Tips to Help Ensure the Integrity of Your Structures:

  • Clean up! Build-up on conveyor structures, substation roofs, rockfall structures gets heavy!
  • Even better – eliminate the source of spillage
  • Look after column bases. Remove build-up and moisture to protect baseplates and HD bolts from corrosion.
  • Protect structural members from impact damage from mobile equipment.
  • Fix/replace those members already struck, bent and buckled – or worse – missing!
  • Use a qualified structural engineer experienced in mining structures to design and certify any new structures and any modifications to existing structures.
  • Follow the drawings! Structures must be built in accordance with the design intent. If it’s not constructable, change your engineer!
  • Do not remove bracing from structures to improve access – it was put there for a reason.
  • Use a third party (like us!) to conduct regular plant and equipment condition audits including structural integrity.

Be Proactive

Demonstrating a proactive approach to mine structure safety will help if something does go bang.

Being aware of a problem and not attending to it will definitely attract the negative attention of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) – that’s the latest title of the Mines Department – who have the “Mines Safety Branch” to target mine sites for audits and inspections.

WA has around 60 Mine Safety Inspectors across the almost 200 mine sites currently operating in WA. That’s an inspector for every 3 mine sites.

Structural Integrity

The number of site inspections have increased by over 150% since 2009.

And the number of site audits has increased by over 200% respectively in the same time period. These are proactive activities by the DMIRS, not investigations after an incident.

The safety issues faced by the inspectors during audits and inspections result in Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices. They always find something!

Minimize Unplanned Shutdowns

One of our clients received a prohibition notice for their crushing plant. It couldn’t re-start until a full site audit was carried out, and there were some problems to fix too. It was a great job for us, and we certainly minimised the remedial work required as much as possible, but I’m convinced a much better outcome is had when things don’t get that far gone.

Steelwork gets thinner before it disappears altogether.
Concrete cracks before it blows out due to expanding corroded rebar.

Corrosion and wear are slow(ish) processes that can be curbed before things go awry.

Huge losses can be eliminated through regular structural inspections and to be honest it’s us Yenem guys you want on your site first, not those mine safety inspectors!

What structural challenge are you facing right now?

You need engineers that you can trust, and that understand your needs.

We offer a complimentary initial consultation. We will listen to what you want, make recommendations on how best to approach your matter, and give advice on how to achieve the best outcome.

We will endeavour to provide you with a clear and accurate fee estimate.

Book your COMPLIMENTARY 30 MIN MEETING to discuss your structural plant and how we can help you become “proactive” by clicking the calendar button below.

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