30 Years of MDG15 – NSW Mining Industry

Celebrating 30 years of MDG15 in NSW

Safety regulations for the design and operation of mobile equipment

A bit of background on NSW Mines Department Guideline No.15

Safety requirements for design and use of mobile equipment

For the purpose of use in all New South Wales mines, MDG15 is a guideline that specifies the safety requirements for the design, manufacturing, and operation of mobile and transportable equipment.

The goal of MDG 15 is to prevent a recurrence of the previously unacceptable rates of accidents involving those who operate and maintain mobile equipment, fires on mobile equipment, and unplanned movements of mobile equipment.


Fire, unplanned movements, safe means of egress and access, vibration, ergonomics, emergency shutdowns, positive isolation, safety critical systems, clear and appropriate labelling, burst protection on high pressure hydraulic hoses, proximity detection, extra low voltage conversions, noise audits, visibility audits, wheels, rims, and tyres, as well as other human factors, are just some of the areas of focus with MDG15.

It’s a learning pathway to safety and mandatory compliance.

Effective auditing of Mobile Machinery

MDG 15 offers businesses a pathway to help them on their journey to becoming compliant with mandatory requirements for equipment of this nature.

Sure, it’s only a guideline and should not be mistaken for a mining regulation or statute law/act of parliament, but it’s so well put together that it’s possible to be compliant in a few mandatory areas by strictly adhering to MDG15.


Its goal is to keep people safe, which should be reason enough to follow it, but it also draws attention to areas on machinery where risks still exist and incidents have previously occurred, as well as identify potential risk management strategies. To evaluate specific risks in the operating environment and select the best risk controls, risk assessment techniques must be used.

It’s a great example of government and industry cooperating.

Operational safety of Heavy Earthmoving Equipment

Government and business worked together to create the current 93 page MDG15. This effort included a large number of mining mechanical engineers, maintenance and engineering leaders and professionals, manufacturers, suppliers, and staff from various government departments.

A culture of interdependence, as well as the integration of knowledge and information from various disciplines, is critical to health and safety.   A suite of documents created by a group of subject matter experts help to ensure safety at our workplace, and these documents are frequently a consolidation of their specialised knowledge and experiences into a single source.

However, these documents are useless unless they are accepted by those they are supposed to protect, which is why MDG15 has been so successful. MDG15 training has greatly benefited many workplaces by raising employee awareness and producing a large number of trained auditors who can conduct assessments.


This has been extremely beneficial to maintenance and engineering managers, as well as safety practitioners, because the more people with that level of knowledge in the workforce, the more likely a defect or non-compliant situation will be detected at the earliest possible stage.

MDG15 has been very good for business

The cost of auditing Heavy Mobile Equipment

MDG15 has also created a sub-industry within the NSW mining industry, with a large number of suppliers now specialising in either auditing, training, or supplying materials that allow companies to comply with the details. Specialist suppliers offer MDG15 compliant stickers, signs, lighting, and test equipment, to name a few.

MDG15’s incredible evolution, acceptance, and integration.

Heavy Mobile Equipment Auditing

MDG15, which was first published in 1992, has evolved into one of the best things I’ve ever seen from a government department; some consulting firms in NSW have developed comprehensive inspection documents for onsite audits, and digital e-checklist apps are on the way. MDG15 has been a driving force behind significant improvements in operator pre-start checklists and the development of mine site introduction to site processes for any engine-driven equipment.

MDG15 has also had a significant impact on the development of maintenance strategies for mobile plant routine maintenance. Maintenance Planners have become very knowledgeable about most aspects of MDG15 and will ensure that those considerations are captured when scoping maintenance work. MDG15 is deeply ingrained in the daily practices of Maintenance Engineers, Supervisors, and Maintainers, and they could easily be considered subject matter experts.

Here is the link to the NSW Government’s MDG15