Part of a multinational mining company conceded it should have done more to prevent employee incidents at a coal operation.
A subsidiary of BHP recently admitted it failed to maintain a safe and healthy work environment.
Endeavour Coal pleaded guilty to breaching sections 19 and 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act when employee Jeffrey Rapley suffered a serious conveyor belt injury at the Appin Colliery, 76km southwest of the Sydney CBD.
Rapley was trying to install a new conveyor when he walked along the top guards. Coworker David Dinsdale allegedly activated the machine, causing the victim’s right foot to enter the inlet hole and become entangled with moving parts back on 8 June 2019. He was transported to hospital for urgent medical treatment.
“The defendant failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and in particular Mr Rapley in that it failed to take one or more of the following reasonably practicable measures to eliminate the risk – or if it was not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk – to minimise the risk,” District Court of New South Wales judge Russell McIlwaine said in his ruling.
“The risk was the risk of workers including Mr Rapley suffering death or serious injury as a result of a body part coming in contact with, or becoming entangled in, moving parts of a conveyor.”
McIlwaine originally planned to convict and fine the employer $400,000. However, the business pleaded guilty early and received a 25 per cent discount to just $300,000. The company was also ordered to pay prosecution costs plus a 50 per cent moiety of the fine to the prosecutor.
The NSW Resources Regulator urged every employer to assess underground plant operation hazards.
“This incident highlights the need for operators to ensure that all plant is subject to [an] operational risk assessment,” executive director Peter Day said in a public statement.
“There were poor management and controls in place at the colliery, coupled with a poor handover to new team members. A number of documented systems of work, designed to protect against the risk which eventuated, were not implemented in practice.”
The maximum penalty is $1.5 million.
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