Two members of BHP Saraji engineering leadership team have been reportedly suspended after providing false and misleading information to a mines inspector.
UPDATED 12/12/2019 IMPORTANT: THIS CONTENT SHOULD BE READ IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE RESULTS OF A LEGAL CHALLENGE AGAINST THE MINES INSPECTOR FOR UNLAWFUL CONDUCT. IT IS NOTED THAT THE DEPARTMENT CONCEDED THE ACTION OF THE INSPECTOR WERE DEEMED UNLAWFUL
AMSJ understand that the suspension incident stemmed from misleading statements made to an Inspector of Mines regarding a Cable Reel Truck and the subsequent commissioning and management of change process to improve safety with the truck that was involved in a highwall trial at the BHP Saraji mine.
According to AMSJ sources, a contracted employee at the BHP Saraji site identified a range of safety-related concerns issues with the implementation of the new plant.
The Contractor reportedly alerted the site management to a range of safety issues and was threatened with a revoke of a purchase order covering his services. AMSJ understands an ethical complaint may have also been raised with BHP management associated with the handling of safety complaints following the safety reset.
AMSJ was informed that a directive was issued to the BHP Saraji Mine Site Senior Executive on the 27th August 2019 to cease using a Cable Reel Truck due to a range of issues associated with the management of change, risk management procedures, training, isolation and tagging.
A range of safety-related issues also included:
- lack of detail on pre-start cards and missed recording of faults;
- Observation of a RIIMPO208E assessment as a generic document that relied on the familiarisation of a handbook for an assessment;
- Evidence indicating that employees participating in a Work Area Familiarisation had understood up to 100 documents in a 20 minute period.
According to information supplied, the Cable Reel Truck was being used at the Saraji site and had accumulated more than 13000 km without addressing a range of safety-related issues and an ‘Information Tag’ was placed on the equipment indicating “commissioning’ and restricted to only authorised persons.
Two personnel at the site reportedly told the inspector that the vehicle had been commissioned during an investigation in late August 2019.
Records indicated that the truck had been on the site for an extended period of time being used under a ‘commissioning’ tag and site staff may have sought to circumvent site safety and health system issues through the use of a ‘commissioning tag.’
The inspector reportedly found that there was no evidence that engineering staff involved applied and enforced the site’s procedures for modifying plant and isolation and tagging.
Under Directives given by the Inspector to the BHP Saraji SSE in early September, the mine was to ensure:
- Equipment use was suspended pending management of change, risk assessments, training documentation and procedures.
The inspector also found that:
- Changes to software – staff were only verbally briefed not trained and deemed competent following changes to software that operates the machine;
- The engineering staff at the site had “Less than adequate knowledge of the site’s safety system and legislative requirements regarding isolation and tagging.”
- Left rear taillights were intermittently working due to damaged wiring. This was well-known but not recorded on prestart checks.
- Front tyre rims had wheel nut indicator tags missing
- Poor housekeeping on the plant.
A mines department investigation is currently underway regarding the laying of charges against the two personnel for a breach of Section 176 ‘False or Misleading Statements’ of the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999.
BHP has been contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication
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