10 May 2023

Safety innovation acknowledged by mining giant

| Troy Rowling
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The Truck Hitch Kingpost Cradle ensures that one-tonne kingposts are held more securely in place during movement.

The invention was designed and trialled by Rio Tinto Weipa fitter and turner Warren Jamieson, who works at the company’s mechanical workshop.

A kingpost is a shaft attached to the dragline tub, which carries the entire weight of the excavator.

The component inserts into the main chassis of the dragline, which enables the machine to rotate.

Kingposts are routinely removed from the dragline and need to be transported to different workshops across town for various maintenance tasks.

However, the posts have proven to be notoriously cumbersome to securely move.

Wooden pallets atop a forklift are employed when the top-heavy shaft is being removed from the truck hitch assembly.

The limited availability of pallets in Weipa means they are often unreliable and can sometimes be homemade, termite ridden or have missing planks, posing an ongoing safety risk.

Kingposts are too bulky to lay flat on the pallets and, as a result, the shaft can routinely break through the pallets, topple over and roll to the ground.

Similarly, when the maintenance tasks are completed and the kingpost is returned to the workshop, it can be tenuously resting on replacement or broken pallets.

The kingposts are strapped down but still lack anything further to ensure they remain in place.

The risk of a tumbling kingpost not only poses a threat to surrounding workers but can also take up to an hour for work crews to return it to the pallets.

The innovative concept of creating a designated cradle to firmly secure the kingpost was put into action by Mr Jamieson.

The cradle creates an added level of safety to the transportation task because the kingpost can be secured to bolt-on plates, which removes the need for strapping.

Mr Jamieson said his decision to tackle this safety concern came earlier this year when he was attempting to move a kingpost.

He said that he was on the forklift and despite every effort being made to ensure it was securely strapped down, the kingpost began bouncing around, then tilted downward and crashed to the ground.

“I just thought there has got to be a better way to do this,” he said.

“So I talked it over with a few of the blokes around me and drew up the plan for the cradle. I then spoke with the boilermakers about building a prototype and within a few weeks we were trialling it.

“The whole process – from drawing up plans to trialling the cradle took about 2-3 months.”

Mr Jamieson said while he had been involved in several other inventions during his working life, it was the innovation award that was his first official recognition.

“I think anything that increases safety at work is a positive. It’s good the company recognizes and rewards initiative from its workers,” he said.

His invention will now progress to the upcoming state awards.

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