WA: mining company fined $102,000 after worker injured in fall from height

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Wednesday, 28 July, 2021 - 11:15
Incidents & prosecutions
Western Australia

Minterra Pty Ltd (formerly known as Australian Contract Mining Pty Ltd) was recently fined $102,000 in the Perth Magistrate’s Court and ordered to pay $6000 in costs after an employee was injured at its Starlight underground mine, in 2018.

The mine, about 140km north of Meekatharra, extends about 400 metres below the ground.

At the time of the incident, the employee was in a work-basket, which was attached to a machine, called an integrated tool carrier. It is used to lift workers to various heights so they can carry out tasks.

On 13 March 2018, the worker fell at least 1.5 metres to the ground when the work basket detached from the integrated tool attachment bracket.

In the lead up to the incident, the integrated tool carrier was being manoeuvred, with the worker in the basket. However, on the fifth manoeuvre, the work basket, detached and the worker fell with the basket.

Investigations revealed the work basket detached from the integrated tool carrier because the attachment bracket locking pins had not been engaged when the work basket was attached to the carrier. Moreover, the worker did not check to ensure the locking pins, of the attachment bracket, were engaged.

The worker was airlifted to Perth for hospital treatment the next day. He suffered multiple fractures in both feet, a ruptured Achilles tendon, a sprained ligament and needed surgical intervention for these injuries.

Falls from height were one of the main hazards leading to fatalities and serious injuries in the mining industry, said WA mines safety director at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety Andrew Chaplyn.

“This miner suffered serious injuries to his feet,” Chaplyn said.

“Mine operators must ensure workers understand and adhere to all safety instructions and have a full understanding of the mechanisms of the machinery they are using.”