Mobile equipment fires remain a major hazard in the mining industry. Bluefield has written articles previously on the subject (see here and here). Over the past 12 months, we have conducted many more mobile equipment integrity inspections and fire prevention reviews across sites around Australia and overseas. We have captured learnings from these reviews we believe are important to share.
Importantly, sites can prevent mobile equipment fires at the build/rebuild stage. During equipment rebuilds, it is essential the integrity of hose routing, clamping, and fire prevention mechanisms such as hose lagging are maintained or upgraded to best practice standards. Sites need to continually identify the latest standards and apply them to their overhaul programs. There have been incidents in recent years where fire prevention material was secured onto hoses with heat shrink. Such a practice can become a problem itself as deterioration of the fittings is hidden under the heat shrink, making it difficult to identify and correct defects.
In addition to proper installation, effective inspection and maintenance regimes are essential to managing the risk of mobile equipment fires. Hose clamping and routing practices preventing rubbing, along with early detection of leaks, are key areas to managing the numerous small defects which can lead to an incident.
Not only do defects have to be identified, but maintenance teams must ensure defects are raised in the CMMS so they can be fixed. Bluefield has written previously about improving maintenance execution standards (see here and here). We’ve learned a review of the equipment and completed service sheets by the supervisor helps create the necessary awareness and maintenance discipline to ensure defects don’t go unmanaged. As an example during a mobile equipment audit conducted this year, one of our specialists viewed a random sample of completed service sheets. He found where the supervisor had reviewed and signed off on the completed service sheets, 87% of the defects on the sheets made it into the site’s CMMS. Where the supervisor hadn’t reviewed and signed off on the completed service sheets, only 33% of defects were entered. Any of these missed defects are potentially a hazard to the mobile equipment operator.
Finally, we need to continue to discuss the risk of mobile equipment fires and make people aware of the standards and practices causing them. While it’s fine to discuss and educate at a point in time, we have regularly seen examples where we return to the site after a period away and find unacceptable fire risk standards on the equipment. These defects are often unreported in the CMMS. Like all significant risks to a business and the safety of people, it is essential to remain aware of equipment fire risks and discuss or educate the teams regularly on prevention methods before incidents occur.