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Employer finds ‘no major flaw’ after two workplace deaths

Mastermyne Group
File photo of Mastermyne workers

Two employee fatalities in seven months were not enough to dent a mining services company’s health and safety culture, investigators said.

Metarock Group recently reviewed organisational safety and found no significant problems despite Graham Dawson dying at Sojitz’s Gregory Crinum Coal Mine (309km west of Rockhampton) and Gavin Feltwell passing away at Anglo American’s Moranbah North Coal Mine (211km southwest of Mackay).

“There is good intent, commitment and energy for safety and health throughout the organisation – and no major flaws were identified,” the company said in a public statement.

“The sites which incurred the fatal incidents were excluded from this review as they are the subject of ongoing investigations.”

The business claimed management was committed to establishing a positive safety culture where employees feel “cared for, valued, empowered and motivated”.

“Positive workforce moral was evident at all workplaces. They have confidence and trust in leadership,” it said.

“[With a] positive reporting culture in place, people are comfortable to report matters of concern, hazards etc. [There is also] good sharing of learnings and no production over safety concerns identified.”

The employer conceded it is struggling to find enough workers to fill job vacancies due to the pandemic, rapid growth and acquisition of Pybar Mining Services.

“Emotional, legal and financial impacts from the fatalities are all placing additional strain on the business to operate in a ‘business as usual’ format,” it said.

The review team made the following recommendations:

  • review tendering processes to include more involvement and sign off from operational/line management, and a summary of all identified operational and contractual risks – and agreed controls
  • review existing projects and compare tendered to actual scope of services and performance against tender/contract
  • review current projects requirements where Metarock supervises work and operates under client-based well established systems
  • reassess Metarock structures and requirements in these cases to ensure value-adding propositions for clients, and where Metarock does not provide direct supervision – or operates under labour hire arrangements
  • conduct an effectiveness audit of Metarock safety and health management systems at sites where Metarock is appointed as mine operator, or projects operating under Metarock health and safety systems
  • simplify, consolidate and implement a long-term company wide safety and health approach to eliminate fatalities, control major risk, reduce personal injuries and illnesses, clarify frontline supervisor expectations, consolidate major risks and critical controls for Metarock into consistent risk framework, and appoint risk and control owners at relevant operations
  • establish safety key performance indictors and targets for line managers that are linked to appraisal, recognition and reward systems.

“Our organisation has been rocked to the core by the two tragedies that occurred in the past year, and we welcome the findings and recommendations from the organisational safety review,” Metarock managing director Tony Caruso said.

“The Board has agreed to adopt all of the recommendations unconditionally and we will work diligently to implement these recommendations across our entire business. Also, where applicable to our organisation, we will continue to incorporate the recommendations from the recent Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry.”

Click here to read the full list of recommendations.

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AMSJ April 2022