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National Safety Information Bulletin: Dozer Safety in Open Cut Operations

15/04/2021BY: Phil Cleverly


Prior to Dozer Operations:

Prior to any dozer operations the site Supervisor and Operator should ensure that a task specific risk assessment such as a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is completed before commencing work. The JSA should also be reviewed if the work conditions change (e.g. wet conditions following heavy rainfall).

Pre-start Equipment Checks:

Dozer Operators must complete daily pre-start equipment checks using a comprehensive checklist to identify any visual and or mechanical hazards. Any hazards identified during the inspection must be reported, documented and rectified prior to an operator commencing work tasks.

Safe Work Procedures:

Dozer operators must always follow the site Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) or Safe Work Instructions (SWIs) for the tasks being completed. Operators must also be aware of their surroundings and any hazards in the immediate work areas.

Basic Safe Work Practices when working near edges include:

  • Maintaining a full blade of material between the dozer blade and the edge when pushing material over a face

  • Always work up and down a slope, never across the slope

  • Operators must regularly inspect working edges for signs of instability such as material movement or cracks

  • Always maintain a safe distance from the edge of a face – if working at an elevated edge or travelling along the top of the face, the safe distances from the edge should be determined through a risk assessment process and geotechnical assessment

  • Consider using remote control technology to perform the job if dozers are required to work near pit edges and there is a significant risk to the operator (e.g., High Dumps or Unstable Ground Conditions)

Lighting & Environment:

Mine management must ensure that adequate lighting of working areas is provided at night. It is not sufficient to rely on equipment running lights. Fixed lighting or trailer mounted lighting plants should be maintained at all working locations.

Planned Maintenance:

To ensure all equipment is maintained to a high standard the Mine must ensure that appropriate planned maintenance and fault repairs are completed, coupled with immediate, management-supported and mandated equipment shutdown in cases where problems cannot be fixed immediately.

Site Layout & Pit Geography:

All Operators must be familiar with the site layout and pit geography. This is essential where long distance commute systems of work are in place, as crews may need to be updated on changes to their workplaces during their time off sites. This should also be done after any other extended site absences such as annual leave.

Planned Movements & Positive Communications:

The Mine site must also have rigorously controlled procedures for movement of equipment from one location to another within the pit/working environment. Special emphasis should be placed on movement of slow-moving equipment, such as excavators and tracked dozers, with positive communication protocols prior to any planned equipment movements and confirmation when movements are complete.

Event Reporting:

It is essential that incidents or unusual and unexpected conditions are immediately reported to the site supervisor. In particular, it is important to be vigilant in examining areas near the edges of benches for cracking or slumping which may indicate potential failures of bench faces.

The condition of the face of the bench above the working horizon should be regularly checked for signs of instability, both local, and more widespread.

Signs may include cracking and small volume rock failures, as well as bulging or swelling of the face or toe of pit walls. Strong hand torches will be needed at night to spot any ground hazards.

It is important that checks are made regularly, and always after blasting and after rainfall events. Also, any new water noticed from the ground or changes in existing ground water volume should be reported too.

Mine Site Operating Practices:

Operating practices established by the individual mine for bulldozers must be understood, adhered to and regularly monitored by the Dozer Operator.

The specific practices and procedures are determined by the individual mine management in consultation with the equipment supplier and the plant operators.

These practices will take account of the capacities and limitations of each unit type and include working grade limits and specific precautions, as well as safe use of all implements. All standard procedures need to be developed within an effective risk management framework by the Mine site.

The Mine must ensure strict enforcement of the wearing of seatbelts by all operators of and passengers in mobile plant, at all times when the equipment is operating.

Where adequate procedures are already in place, the requirements of the management and supervisory team should be emphasised and made plain to employees, and rigorous enforcement of clearly articulated policy and practice should be ensured at all levels of the organisation. At all times, the risks associated with these types of operations need to be properly assessed and appropriate controls put in place to ensure the safety of employees.

Some Additional Resources:

Additional Information on Dozer Safety in Mining is available at the following websites:

Resources Safety & Health Queensland

Safe Work Australia – Mining

Dept Mines, Industry Regulation & Safety

The WorkPac Group Safety and Risk Team will be providing regular updates on this important topic for you.

For further information and assistance please contact your Regional Risk Manager on1300 967 572 or