Coal miner fined $210,000 after worker fatally injured

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institue of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Tuesday, 23 June, 2020 - 19:15
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Western Australia

A major coal mining company operating in Western Australia’s south-west was recently fined $210,000 and ordered to pay $23,000 in costs after a worker suffered a fatal injury while operating a tracked mobile shovel.

The April 2018 incident happened at the Ewington mine site operated by Griffin Coal near Collie.

Griffin Coal pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia for failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment for its employees, causing the death of a worker.

The worker was fatally injured while attempting to access the shovel’s electrical stop switch. During this action a hydraulic ladder was activated, causing it to rotate downwards and pin the worker against a fixed handrail.

Co-workers and paramedics were unable to resuscitate the injured employee.

The incident was an important reminder that mining companies need to make safety an absolute priority, said Andrew Chaplyn, director mines safety at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

“Western Australia has a comprehensive code of practice in relation to safeguarding machinery and plant,” Chaplyn said.

“The code specifically warns about crushing hazards, including the risk of a worker being caught between a machine part and a fixed structure.

“This incident highlights the need for mining companies to conduct ongoing risk assessments and to implement the recommended order of control measures, known as the ‘hierarchy of control’.

“These measures remove or reduce the risk of injury or harm and include a series of steps ranging from the elimination, substitution and/or isolation of risks through to engineering and administrative controls.”

On 7 May 2018, the department issued a Significant Incident Report that summarises the incident, outlines the contributing causes and explains the required actions.