Injuries Associated with Underground Coal Mining Equipment in Australia

Robin Burgess-Limerick*
Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia

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Burgess-Limerick et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia; Tel +61 7 3366 4084; E-mail:


In the 3 years to June 30, 2008, 4,633 injuries occurring underground at NSW (Australia) coal mines were reported to the insurer. Equipment was involved in 2149 of these injuries (46%). The narrative field accompanying these reports was examined to determine opportunities for controlling injury risks. The most common equipment types involved were: Continuous miner (12% of all underground injuries); Bolting machines (6%); LHD (8%); Longwall (7%); Personnel Transport (4%); and Shuttle Car (3%). The most common combinations of equipment and mechanism were: strains while handling items associated with continuous miner or bolting machines; strains, or being struck by, or caught between, while drilling or bolting on a continuous miner or bolting machine; driving or traveling over rough roads in a variety of equipment; being struck by while operating Longwall equipment. Rare, but high potential consequence events reported during the period included: interactions between personnel and mobile equipment; interactions between personnel and Longwall shield movements; transport equipment collisions. A range of potential short-term control measures for these risks have been identified, including monorails for continuous miner services; redesign of continuous miner platforms and bolting rigs to reduce reach distances during drilling and bolting; improvements to guarding of bolting controls; standardisation and shape coding of bolting controls; two handed fast-speed drilling & bolting; improvements in underground roadway maintenance, vehicle suspension, visibility and seating; and proximity detection devices interlocked with mobile equipment controls. Longer term control measures include automated bolting, and mesh placement, in conjunction with either non-line-of-sight remote control of, or automated, continuous mining machines.

Keywords: Occupational injuries, underground coal mining, mining equipment, narratives text analysis, continuous miner, shuttle car, bolting.