Health & Safety

Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL)

Lubrication technician Tracey Anderson utilising the bulk lubrication system to lubricate a gearbox.

Ergonomic improvements in Lubrication team

Annually, approximately 130 twenty litre drums are delivered to the top of Tertiary Tanks One to Four. This process has required lubrication technicians to manually distribute the drums to the gearboxes, requiring the technicians to move up and down via small platforms, collect waste oil from the top of the Tertiary Tanks and deliver it to the ground. In addition, the technicians are required to maintain housekeeping of the drums stored on the platform. As a result, there were a number of ergonomic, trips, slips and falls hazards within this work area.

The Lubrication team, with the support of the Engineering Project team, developed a new system in 2014 that involves a 650 litre bulk tank being filled with the lubricant, which is then distributed to the gearboxes using fixed steel piping and flexible fill hoses. This safety innovation has improved not only the ergonomic risks involved with the task, but also housekeeping conditions, equipment integrity and the overall efficiency of the team.

Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun

Process technician Andrew Jeffries using dropped object prevention equipment during the training exercise on site.

Dropped object prevention improvement project

Across the refinery, employees are regularly required to perform work at heights. This work presents a number of fundamental risks, including falls and dropped objects. Collectively, these risks represent 32.6 per cent of our risk of fatality onsite and are within the top three causes of fatality for all industry in Australia.

Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun recognised that managing these risks and preventing incidents had to be a priority for 2014. A project led and developed by Safety advisor Steve Boyer, with support from Training advisor Craig Munce, introduced several initiatives and tools to address these risks at Yarwun. Firstly, the DROPS calculator was incorporated in the Pre-Task Hazard Assessment process to identify the potential consequence of an object falling a distance. Secondly, work at heights competency assessments were revised to assess the theory and practical application of critical controls including control of dropped objects, control of suspended loads and use of the work at heights permit. Lastly, a range of dropped object prevention equipment including a range of lanyards and synthetic mats were introduced for use as temporary control methods.

Permanent control measures are being installed progressively in high risk areas across the site. These measures include meshing of handrails and elevated floor areas.

More than 500 employees and contractors have completed the dropped objects training since it was introduced in February 2014. Following the introduction of these improvements, the number of incidents due to falling equipment or tools has significantly reduced and there have been no incidents recorded for a person standing under a suspended load, handling a suspended load or leaving a protected area at height resulting in a potential to fall.

Since the introduction of the project, there has been a 46 per cent reduction in significant potential incidents in relation to dropped objects and work at heights. To ensure these results are sustainable, the programme has been fully integrated into the site work at height training programme and assessment.