Dangerous incident- drill rig

October 1, 2017 Tara

While running in drill rods on a drill rig in an underground metal mine, a driller saw a flame appear, then disappear out of the drill rod. The flame was about 30cm, bright orange and lasted for about 30 seconds. The gas monitor was not alarming.

The incident was not reported until a few days after the event because the drillers and supervisor were not aware of the reporting requirements of clause 179(b) regarding a fire in the underground parts of a mine.

During re-entry in a cross cut in an underground metal mine, a shift boss found a burned ventilation bag. This was reported to the foreman.

The mine has not been able to identify the cause of the fire and the regulator directed the mine operator to complete further investigation and assessment.

The incident was not notified to the regulator until several days after the incident occurred.

Recommendations to industry: 

Both of these incidents required immediate notification to the regulator.
Late reporting of incidents inhibits adequate assessment of potential causal factors and failed or absent control measures.
Mine operators should have a documented process for notifiable incident responses and investigations.
Mine operators should ensure all supervisors and workers are trained to identify and notify incidents when a notifiable incident occurs.
Mines and petroleum sites must promptly notify the regulator when an incident occurs.

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