Hi-tech cap helps Coal & Allied truck drivers work smarter to manage fatigue

Truck drivers at Coal & Allied’s Hunter Valley Operations have started wearing an innovative hi-tech cap to better manage their fatigue levels and reduce the risk of accidents.

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The “SmartCap” looks like a standard cap but holds sensors across the wearer’s forehead to monitor signs of fatigue and assess their level of alertness.

Hunter Valley Operations General Manager Operations Tom Lukeman said: “Safety is our number one focus and we’re excited about using an innovative technology like SmartCap to continue making our workplace safer. Fatigue is one of the main factors in accidents involving heavy mobile equipment, so SmartCap will help to make sure our workers go home safe and healthy to their families and friends at the end of each shift. Providing operators with real time information on their alertness levels allows them to better understand and manage their own fatigue.

“The operator is notified if their fatigue levels begin to rise so they can stop for a break or take other steps like moving to a different task or using the fatigue hut, a purpose built sleep room. An alarm is sounded in the operator’s cabin if they get to the point of sustained tiredness or are at risk of a micro-sleep. As a final precaution, in the event the operator’s fatigue levels continue to rise an alarm is then sent to the mine’s dispatch centre so that supervisors can intervene.

“The decision to use SmartCap was made after a successful trial at Hunter Valley Operations last year which involved 48 operators and captured more than 4200 hours of data. SmartCap adds to a number of fatigue management measures we have onsite including soft controls such diet, healthy lifestyle and training.”

Hunter Valley Operations Mobile Plant Operator Anne-Marie Henry said: “SmartCap is a great use of
technology that helps people understand personal fatigue. It is difficult to assess your own fatigue levels but SmartCap allows me to work out different techniques over the shift changes to help reduce my fatigue risk to both myself and others.

“Since using SmartCap my fatigue levels have decreased as I am proactively trying to change the way I do things. I have more energy now during dayshifts which is where I struggle most with fatigue. This user-friendly tool helps me to reduce my fatigue risk and improves safety on site.”

The project will have a staged approach focusing initially on the coaling haul truck fleet where operators may face an increased risk of fatigue due to the longer haul routes. Following the completion of the roll out at Hunter Valley Operations, a decision will be made whether to extend the use of Smart Cap across other Coal & Allied and Rio Tinto Coal Australia sites.

About Coal & Allied

Coal & Allied has been part of the Hunter Valley community for more than 165 years and today manages three open cut coal mines. We aim to achieve shared value with members of the communities in which we operate. Our operations create not only economic value – but value for society by addressing communities’ needs and challenges.

In 2012 our operations employed more than 2700 employees and spent more than $1.7 billion with close to 1300 businesses across NSW. To date our community development funds have invested more than $15 million in the Hunter Valley and have recommitted a further $4.5 million over three years commencing in 2012 to build stronger, smarter and more sustainable communities around our operations.

-ENDS-

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Pictured: Hunter Valley Operations Mobile Plant Operator Anne-Marie Henry using SmartCap.

Why count microsleeps when you can prevent them?