Caterpillar distributor WesTrac has introduced its Elimination of Live Work (ELW) project which employs technology, tools and workplace practices to prevent safety risks to people working close to live equipment in the construction and mining sectors.
WesTrac, the Caterpillar dealer for New South Wales, the ACT and Western Australia, has claimed the ELW project can reduce the need for personnel to operate in close proximity to live equipment in nearly 90 per cent of common maintenance tasks.
The project was first introduced to WesTrac by one of its major mining clients to provide a boost to workplace safety and has now received industry-wide attention. WesTrac’s ELW project, which began in 2018, has created tools by itself and in collaboration with mining companies and OEMs.
“The purpose of this project is not to deal with little nicks and cuts, it’s about saving lives,” WesTrac’s Newman branch manager James Davey said.
“If things go wrong when people are working on live equipment with multiple moving parts, and that can weigh hundreds of tonnes, the results could be disastrous. It’s an area of major focus across the Australian mining and construction sectors to continually reduce risks and enhance safety performance.”
One of WesTrac’s innovative solutions is a remote-controlled camera named “R2D2” that can perform inspections on live machines. The camera is controlled by a tablet that provides operators with a real time view for maintenance. It is mounted on an anti-vibrating base that swivels 360 degrees.
WesTrac designed the camera to have the capacity to clearly read gauges and inspect leaks and achieved this by fitting it with a high resolution and 30-times optical zoom.
“Inspections are often the first part of a task and this camera allows those carrying out the work to stay out of the danger zone, particularly if a machine is running,” Davey said.
An ELW field service kit has also been introduced by WesTrac that provides mobile and workshop-based mechanics with inspection and testing tools that prevent them from physically working near live equipment.
WesTrac anticipates that all its branches, stores and sites will have ELW practices by the end of the year.
“By December this year, we expect all sites to be equipped with the required tools, technology and understanding to carry out 90 per cent of live work tasks under the ELW work practices,” he said.
“For the remaining 10 per cent of tasks that still require personnel to work within the footprint, we’re enhancing procedures to ensure an even greater focus on risk elimination.”
BHP has given WesTrac a safety award for its ELW work, along with it also being recognised by the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.