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Independent investigation, review probes Bowen Basin mine fatality

Mastermyne Group
File photo of Mastermyne workers

A mining services company will externally examine circumstances surrounding a workplace death in Central Queensland’s Isaac region.

Mastermyne Group and parent company Metarock recently launched an independent probe and organisational review to understand exactly how employee Gavin Feltwell died at Anglo American’s Moranbah North Coal Mine, 211km southwest of Mackay.

“Mastermyne is undertaking an independent investigation into the facts surrounding the incident at the Moranbah North mine. Additionally, Metarock has commissioned an independent organisational review following the Moranbah North incident and the fatality at its operations at Crinum mine in September 2021,” Metarock said in a public statement.

The employer promises to quickly adopt changes that help prevent another on-the-job tragedy.

“The scope of the independent review will cut across the Mastermyne and PYBAR operating divisions, with any recommendations or improvements intended to be implemented immediately,” the company said.

The remarks came as official investigations continue into Feltwell’ fatal head injury. He died while helping Mastermyne coworkers dismantle underground conveyor equipment on March 25 at about 10pm. Emergency services attended the scene but the 59-year-old’s wounds were too critical and he passed away shortly after.

Anglo has already suspended mining activities and held “Stop for Safety” sessions at Moranbah North in preparation for Resources Safety and Health Queensland’s (RSHQ’s) official probe.

RSHQ urged all mining companies to review their safety and health management system (SHMS), and ensure it contains “effective preventive critical controls for lifting and managing suspended loads”.

“Verify the SHMS provides for mitigating critical controls, to ensure coal mine workers are not in the line of fire of any actions resulting from an uncontrolled movement of a suspended load,” RSHQ chief coal inspector Peter Newman said in a safety notice.

“Verify that coal mine workers required to conduct lifting activities have the appropriate demonstrated competencies relevant to the environment in which the task is being undertaken.”

Newman revealed an estimated four-tonne load crushed the victim, and urged site senior executives to do more to “prevent uncontrolled movement of suspended loads” in future.

“The load shifted during the activity and resulted in fatal injuries to a coal mine worker,” he said. “Inspectors are investigating this accident to identify its nature and cause.”

Metarock managing director Tony Caruso stressed his employer prioritises protecting staff from danger, risk and injury.

“Safety is one of our central values. We have operated for over 25 years without a loss of life on our projects and, to have two fatalities in a short space of time, is unacceptable. We will undertake a thorough independent review of our safety systems and practices across the organisation to understand where we can improve our systems and approach, to further reduce the risks of serious safety incidents,” he said.

Mastermyne is providing Feltman’s surviving coworkers and loved ones with “all the support and assistance possible.”

Meanwhile the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union’s own safety inspectors is separately conducting independent investigations at the mine site.

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Two deaths, hundreds of serious injuries reported.

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AMSJ April 2022