The Queensland Coroner has scheduled a pre-inquest conference at Mackay into the death of Anglo Coal electrician Paul McGuire who tragically passed away at Grasstree mine following exposure to an irrespirable atmosphere in 2014.
On 6 May 2014, Paul was fatally injured while calibrating gas detectors underground at the Anglo American Grasstree coal mine. Prior to undertaking the calibration, Paul opened a hatch which released a flow of an irrespirable atmosphere, asphyxiating him almost immediately.
In October 2016, Anglo Coal was previously fined $137,500 in relation to the death however a conviction was not recorded. The maximum fine at the time of the offence was $550,000.
Other charges against the company and site manager for failing to discharge safety obligations were dropped by the Department of Natural Resources & Mines.
CFMEU District President Stephen Smyth said at the time “It’s disgraceful Anglo was offered a dirty deal that saw negligent culprits walk free while a young family mourns at the loss of their father”
“We need immediate action from the Queensland Government to strengthen punitive action towards employers who break the law. A petty fine doesn’t even come close to bringing justice to a grieving family – employers need to know negligence will not be tolerated,” he said in response to the fine.
The Coroner will examine a range of issues including:
- The information required by section 45(2) of the Coroners Act 2003, namely when, where, and how, did Mr McGuire die, and what caused his death?
- Whether any of the following factors caused or contributed to Mr McGuire’s death:-
(a) training in the tasks to be performed by Mr McGuire on the 06/05/14;
(b) supervision of Mr McGuire while undertaking duties on the 06/05/14;
(c) practices of the employer governing the sealing of mined (goaf) areas;
(d) the keeping of records pertaining to Mr McGuire’s duties on 06/05/14;
- Whether the actions of employees following the “high methane” alarm at 1:07 pm, until the location of Mr McGuire at 2:50 pm, on 06/05/14 were in accordance with best practice?
- Whether changes should be made to the systems of work applicable to the performance of Mr McGuire’s duties, with a view to preventing further deaths in the mining industry?
- Whether the process of prosecution, including the discontinuation of particular prosecutions, was appropriate to the circumstances of this case?
A pre-inquest conference scheduled for 15 Jan 2020 at 11:00 am in Court 4 at MACKAY, Queensland. Other dates for the inquest have not been set at this time.
You can read the full investigation report undertaken by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources & Mines here
Ian Downs was also killed at the Anglo Coal Grasstree mine in the same year as Paul McGuire. Earlier this year Bradley Hardwick was killed at Anglo Coal’s Moranbah North mine in February 2019 in a grader accident.
Five staff died last year at Anglo American operations worldwide.
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