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Heavy vehicle operator buried alive at coal mine

Coal mine excavator incident
File photo of a coal mine excavator

A resources employee became covered in tonnes of material at an operation.

A Komatsu PC350 excavator operator was recently buried alive at an undisclosed open-cut coal mine.

The worker had tried to dig out a sediment dam when the bench above the equipment failed without warning.

“About 20 tonnes of consolidated fines [were released] onto the excavator,” the New South Wales Resources Regulator said in an incident summary.

Investigators suspect management could have done more to prevent the release including specific task risk assessments.

“Supervisors should increase the frequency of inspections when workers are conducting tasks near benches,” they said in the summary.

“When working under benches and walls a safe stand-off distance should be defined, communicated with workers and maintained throughout the task.”

The operator trammed the 35 tonne vehicle away from the material and was fortunate enough to escape injury.

Click here to read the full summary.

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