What is the significance of the recent Pacific Automation partnership?

This year, Dropsafe, the leading global provider of Dropped Object prevention technology, announced a new exclusive distributor partnership with Pacific Automation. Pacific Automation is an Australia-based distributor of industrial equipment to the mining, oil and gas (O&G), marine, power generation and construction industries.

Dropsafe has been working with Australian mining businesses for some time, but the Pacific Automation partnership will enable the firm to meet growing regional demand and bolster its product and support services offering. There is increasing recognition across the industry that safety measures still need to be improved and mitigating the risks from Dropped Objects is a crucial factor in this.

Mining has the third highest fatality rate of any industry in Australia (4.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2015), making this partnership all the more significant. In Western Australia, the largest mining region in the country, the Department of Mines and Petroleum reported that 28% of fatalities between 2009 and 2014 were due to workers being struck by objects.

What are the risks posed by Dropped Objects at mining sites?

Dropped Object risks are, of course, not limited to Australia. The global mining sector has an opportunity to set a new standard in Dropped Object prevention, tackling a four-fold threat that consists of:

  1. The risk of injury or fatality to personnel
  2. The risk of equipment damage
  3. The financial consequences of these incidents
  4. The reputational consequences of failing to mitigate these risks

A mining site is commonly characterised by heavy activity, wear and tear, corrosion and vibration. This creates an environment where Dropped Object risks are common. These risks can be categorised into ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ Dropped Objects. ‘Static’ Dropped Objects, such as overhead lights, aviation beacons, and CCTV cameras, can become loose and fall when the fixture or mounting brackets deteriorate over time, potentially causing injury or fatality.

Alternatively, risks posed by ‘dynamic’ Dropped Objects consist of tools and equipment being dropped by personnel from raised platforms and down shafts. Loose rocks falling from conveyor belts or due to blasting, drilling or seismic activities are also dynamic Dropped Objects.

To mitigate these risks, Dropsafe has designed and manufactured a wide range of prevention systems. These include the ‘Dropsafe Net’, a stainless-steel mesh-safety nets that enclose overhead fixtures; the ‘Dropsafe Pouch’, a stainless steel security pouches to tether handheld items when being used at height; and the high-tech polymer ‘Dropsafe Barrier’ system, which is installed on guardrailing as either a permanent or temporary solution to prevent Dropped Objects.

How does an investment in Dropped Object prevention benefit mining firms?

By taking a long-term view of value, together with investing in robust Dropped Object mitigation technology from a supplier with a proven track record, companies can save money, protect their reputations, and save lives. A proactive approach is to address these risks during the installation or maintenance phases, by adding barriers to conveyer belts, nets to light fittings, and supplying personnel with pouches.

Any serious injuries or fatalities may be widely publicised, have legal ramifications, and ultimately affect the success of the business involved. By staying ahead of the game in Dropped Object prevention, companies can be assured that they will keep both on-site incidents and near misses to a minimum, and therefore gain an edge over their competitors. At the same time, by adopting solutions which are impact resistant, have high structural integrity and are manufactured to a high quality, companies can demonstrate a real commitment to best practice in health and safety.