Moving from standard safety protocols to robust engineered solutions

Teksal Safety featured in the February edition of the Australian Mining Review in the technical article, “Moving on from standard safety protocols to robust engineered solutions”.

It talks about how we work with our global manufacturing partner, Dropsafe, to deliver high-level engineered safety solutions to help customers protect their people, plant and process.

Published online and hard copy editions, we’ve reproduced it here:

With many mine operators seeking safety measures beyond standard, administrative controls and procedures to minimise risk in these high-pressure, high-risk environments, there is an increasing demand for technically sound, engineered solutions .

In partnership with its global manufacturing partner, Dropsafe, Perth-based industrial safety supplier Teksal Safety, is addressing these safety challenges in the mining industry.

The Australian Mining Review recently caught up with Joe Hischar, Managing Director, Teksal Safety, and Mike Rice, Dropsafe, who believe engineered controls should be included in best practice Drops prevention programmes and that Drops prevention in Australia should go beyond its traditional stronghold sectors.

AMR: What is the current sentiment around safety solutions in Australia?

After many years in the business, Joe says he has observed an increased interest and demand for the uptake of engineered safety solutions in mining environments.

“We’re certainly seeing increased awareness about safety in general, particularly in mining. In the early days, we saw crude, makeshift solutions being used in that sector, but over the years the standard of solutions has matured,” he said.

“Operators recognise the importance of using robust solutions that have been designed and tested, and safely implemented.”

AMR: What challenges does the Australian mining market face in adopting engineered safety solutions?

“Awareness will always be a key focus. And, embedding best practice and educating leaders about comprehensive prevention programmes remains as crucial as ever.

“Despite today’s connected world, in Australia in particular, remote environments can be challenging. Facilities with significant hazards, such as mine sites, are often far from high-density centres – potentially thousands of kilometres away. To maintain high safety standards in these remote project sites, it ultimately comes down to creating and embedding a strong, consistent safety culture.”

AMR: How are industrial safety controls implemented in the mining environment?

“Firstly, it is important to follow the hierarchy of safety controls and engineer out the risk as a priority. You could put a sign up on a walkway that warns personnel not to drop objects over the deck. But this is an administrative control. It is low on the hierarchy, and ultimately, incidents could still occur. However, a physical barrier prevents this.

“Secondly, continue to build awareness of risks and prevention solutions. Education is key in all industries – even those that are more established. The risks evolve, the solutions evolve, and operators must keep pace.

“Finally, we would challenge the industry to innovate. Don’t settle for the status quo, search for the best solutions, and improve the situation.”

AMR: How is Teksal Safety working to help mining companies keep their workers safe?

“Our goal is to protect people, plant and process. Safety culture often emphasises administrative controls and things like PPE. While these play a key role within a wider HSE programme, we focus on engineered controls to mitigate risk at a high level.

“While we have solutions that tackle administrative issues that capture residual risk, our main aim is to mitigate the risks further up the chain.”

AMR: How has working with Dropsafe helped address these issues and bring technically innovative, engineered solutions to the industry?

“We were introduced to Dropsafe through mutual business partners at an exhibition. I’d long been aware of Dropsafe because of the strength of its solutions, and was excited to be introduced to the company because we identified common goals and a clear synergy between our brands. So it was the right time and the right fit.

“Dropsafe’s product quality – including the testing and documentation – is second to none. It is a market leader, yet continues to innovate.

“As a partner, its professionalism is exceptional, and its drive to spread its safety message to the market is clearly communicated.

“We’re proud to be associated with the brand. It’s always good to have a flagship brand in your product suite, and that’s how we feel about our partnership with Dropsafe.”

The game-changing Dropsafe Barrier

The AMR was also privileged to recently chat with Dropsafe Commercial Director, Mike Rice, who gave us a unique insight into the company’s unique Dropsafe Barrier.

The Dropsafe Barrier is designed to prevent items such as tools, handheld devices and maintenance equipment falling through open guardrailing on walkways, stairways, scaffolding and elevated work platforms.

‘’The barrier system came off the back of a conversation with a driller who was basically looking for a stainless steel net to put up against a handrail to prevent objects falling through,” Mike said.

‘’At the time, we said to them: ‘This is a not an ideal solution because you’re going to have problems installing and maintaining it and the issues will be compounded by its weight’.

‘’We started the development process and ended up with a high-grade polymer system instead of stainless steel.’’

Robust, long-lasting, reusable and recyclable, the Dropsafe Barrier panels are fast and easy to install or remove, attaching along the inside of guardrailing and under stairs.

The system has three main components: the long panel, the short panel, and the securing device.

The long panel, which is primarily used on straight sections on guardrailing and stairway handrailing, has a solid infilled base to contain smaller floor debris, while still able to be flat packed for shipping and easily stored.

As the short panel is flexible and can bend to a 350mm radius, it is used around corners and under stairs, and its small aperture makes it suitable for machinery guarding.

‘’It’s much simpler to bend the panelling than it is to cut and shape it, using a bunch of carpentry skills—we try to avoid the use of tools wherever possible,’’ Mike said.

‘’The securing device is a two-part system. It has a 316 stainless steel band that goes through the aperture of a panel around the back of the post, back into the securing device, which is then clamped in place.

‘’The beauty of the stainless-steel band is that it’s thin enough to go around any shape or handrail, whether you have angle iron, flat bar, or round tubes.

‘’The securing device has an anti-fail system built into it and each component withstands up to 130kg of load.”

Mike says the Dropsafe Barrier solution has evolved, based on real-life settings.

‘’Over the years we’ve spent a lot of time talking to customers to find out the problems they’re facing, day in and day out, and develop solutions that address them.

‘’We’ve designed this system to survive for 10 years so it is a very robust system that you can put in place for the short or long term.

‘’A lot of companies are now using it for shutdowns and maintenance when they get a lot of traffic on site with third-party contractors.’’

Dropsafe also offers customers a ‘material degradation test’ in which a snippet of a panel is analysed to see how much life it has left in it before it needs to be retired/to determine its longevity?

‘’At that point, we have a recycling programme for the panels to be returned to us,’’ Mike said.

The Dropsafe Barrier has been designed to withstand the harshest environments, such as a category 5 cyclone.

“From a strength point-of-view, the product was designed to tolerate a drop of a 10kg sledgehammer.

“We try to imagine the worst-case scenario, and design products to exceed that worst case.

“We then go through a rigorous internal and third-party testing process to check they live up to the high standards we set.

‘’It is resistant to more than 100 chemicals and has the highest fire rating for any plastic.

‘’The secret to the system is the plastic we use—it took us two years to identify a material that could meet our performance requirements, as well as the high UV resistance and durability.

‘’Overloading handrails in high wind is a real concern. To test its strength, we went to the bottom of a wind tunnel to expose it to 250km/h winds for 12 hours.’’

Similar tests were carried out for intense and extensive rain.

Dropsafe Barrier

How the Dropsafe Barrier works

Designed for industries that involve working at height and therefore have increased risk of drops incidents, the Dropsafe Barrier prevents tools and equipment from falling through open guardrailing, stairways and elevated work platforms.

How? It attaches along the inside of the guardrailing of elevated walkways, stairways and access ways of permanent or temporary structures, using a universal attaching system.

The Dropsafe Barrier is modular, with impact and heat-resistant panels, and small honeycomb apertures.

It is recommended by both DROPS online and SfS as Drops Prevention best practice and is ABS DOPP+ type approved.

For more information about any of our dropped object prevention solutions, email