Newcrest Mining Ltd has been convicted and fined $450,000 following a prosecution by the Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Regulator over the death of a worker at the underground Ridgeway Mine (which is currently under a care & maintenance program) at Cadia near Orange in 2015.
Newcrest was convicted of a Category 2 offence for failing to comply with a health and safety duty under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The fine was discounted 25% after the company entered an early guilty plea.
The Resources Regulator’s Chief Compliance Officer, Anthony Keon, welcomed the judgment in the NSW District Court.
“This conviction should remind our mining industry that any failure in work health and safety duties can have serious consequences. In this case it has resulted in the foreseeable and preventable death of a young worker, who expected to go home at the end of his shift,” Mr Keon said.
“Mine operators have a duty to ensure the health and safety of workers. Where work health and safety duties are not met, the Resources Regulator will be there to hold offenders to account.
“The NSW Government and the community expect mining companies to comply with their health and safety duties at all times.”
The conviction follows an investigation into the death of 28-year-old Lee Peters who was fatally injured when he was crushed in a pinch point between a water cannon and a mine wall at the Ridgeway Underground Mine.
The company was prosecuted under the work health and safety laws introduced by the NSW Government in January 2012.
The Regulator’s report into the incident can be found here: https://www.resourcesandgeoscience.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/701478/investigation-report-ridgeway-mine.pdf
This crush fatality incident reinforces the risks associated with working in the vicinity of block cave draw points. When considering the recommendations below, mine operators are reminded of their obligation to take a combination of measures to minimise the risk, if no single measure is sufficient for that purpose. Operators of metalliferous underground mines that contain draw points but are not block cave operations should consider the following recommendations as far as reasonably practicable. When undertaking block cave mining and draw point production activities, mine operators should:
- Use the hierarchy of controls when developing critical controls, with a focus on hard controls (e.g. elimination, substitution or engineering).
- Consider remote technology, taking workers out of the line of fire from draw points.
- Prohibit mine workers from undertaking work on foot in the vicinity of underground draw points without appropriate controls in place.
- Eliminate or minimise worker exposure to pinch points between mobile plant and mine workings.
- Construct bunds to consistent standards in appropriate areas such as open draw points and maximise bund size taking into consideration rock fragmentation and material type.
- Consider the potential for rock material (whether dry or wet) to flow into extraction drives and place workers at risk.
- Ensure inrush control plans identify and control rock flows from draw points.
- Undertake regular reviews of the inrush principal hazard management plan and map against the codes of practices and guidelines, including the NSW code of practice for inundation and inrush hazard management.
- Ensure appropriately trained personnel inspect active draw points to identify hazards and eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety.
- Ensure human factors and working environment are considered during the development of critical control measures.
- Ensure monitoring arrangements are developed and implemented to minimise dust exposure.
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