Miners become inventors to boost workplace safety

12 April 2018

Maintenance workers at New Hope Group’s Jeebropilly Mine in Ipswich can add "inventor" to their resume after an in-house developed innovation delivered significant improvements to the mine’s coal handling and preparation plant.

The Temporary Bin Access System allows Jeebropilly’s maintainers to access the preparation plant’s coal bins during scheduled maintenance periods via a system of caged platforms and ladders.

Preparation Plant Superintendent Ty Cochrane said the new system replaced the traditional use of cranes and lift-boxes to access the inside of the coal bins.

"During planned maintenance at the preparation plant we need to get our maintainers inside the coal bins to complete their scheduled maintenance work," Ty said.

"While we had appropriate risk management controls in place to use the traditional crane method, it did present height challenges and even though they were properly managed, we wanted to see if there was an easier and more efficient way to access the bins."

"To do that, we put together a working group who investigated a whole range of options and eventually came up with the idea for the Temporary Bin Access System."

The simple but ingenious new system offers maintainers a quicker mode of access into and out of the coal bins, and also removes the height challenges associated with workers being suspended from cranes.

"New Hope, as a company, has a long tradition of backing in-house innovation and I’m really proud of our working group for coming up with this concept and having it feature as a permanent and useful part of our maintenance routine."

"The new system has also driven efficiency improvements by reducing our reliance on cranes," Ty said.

"It means we spend more time completing our actual maintenance activities, and less time ferrying workers in and out of the coal bins with cranes."

Jeebropilly Mine partnered with G3 Engineering to complete the design and manufacturing that brought the initial concept to life.