Health and Safety CONFERENCE

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Synthetic Light Weight Couplings

Josh Leppard
Overburden Supervisor, BMA Saraji Mine

Tragically Saraji Mine had a fatality on New Year’s Eve 2018 involving a bulldozer rolling down an embankment. The first responders to this incident required the use of heavy duty slings and shackles to upright the dozer. This involved personnel traversing down a steep embankment on undulated ground during the night carrying D-shackles that weighed approximately 62kg each, this created a significant manual handling risks to the people involved.

Post incident, Saraji became aware of light weight synthetic couplings that are made specifically for the marine industry that significantly reduced the weight whilst providing exceptional strength properties.

We reached out to the manufacture of the light weight synthetic couplings in New Zealand in an attempt to replicate this technology within the mining industry. By substituting the existing steel D-shackle with a custom made light weight synthetic design, we have reduced the potential of a manual handling incident when recovering surface mobile equipment or the potential for stored energy within the steel to become airborne should the steel D-shackle capacity be exceeded.
The soft couplings were tested to 175,000 kg for a maximum breaking force (MBF) of 510,000 kg without breakage and have a total weight of 8.2 kg compared to the 62 kg steel D-shackles that are normally used.

The synthetic couplings have been successfully trialled on site to extract various pieces of surface mobile equipment. They have been included as mandatory items in the emergency equipment recovery trailer along with other items to aid in the immediate recovery should the need arise.