August 15, 2022

Alcoa a finalist for safe mine design that eliminates risk

Larego overpassAlcoa is a finalist in the 2022 Work Health and Safety Excellence Awards for the elimination rather than prevention of safety risk at its Willowdale Bauxite Mine in the South West of Western Australia.

In a first for Alcoa and rare in Australian mining, Alcoa’s new mine region Larego at Willowdale mine was designed with the primary intent of eliminating rather than preventing known safety risks.

Alcoa’s Acting WA Manager of Mines Trever Stockil said after 20 years the move of mining activity from Orion to Larego in March 2021 afforded the rare opportunity to design a new facility that entirely eliminated critical safety risks around uncontrolled pedestrian and light and heavy mobile mining equipment interactions.

“Historically, preventative controls such as zebra crossings, traffic lights and stop signs are used to manage interactions, however these rely on human decision making and the possibility of human error remains very real,” Mr Stockil said.

“To eliminate these known risks, Alcoa challenged normal practise and re-thought its approach.”

In a marked step away from usual practice, a pedestrian tunnel and dedicated walkway system separates people from light or heavy vehicles. Measures were also put in place to segregate operating and maintenance environments for light and heavy vehicles to limit interaction.

These measures remove the capacity for human error and eliminate the risk of serious or fatal injury from uncontrolled pedestrian and light and heavy mobile mining equipment interaction.

Run by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, the Work Health and Safety Excellence Awards will be announced 28 October 2022.