AMSJ » Prosecutor compelled to sue mining company for dead Qld worker

Prosecutor compelled to sue mining company for dead Qld worker

Coal mine

A multinational resources producer should be prosecuted for at least one workplace fatality in Queensland’s Central Highlands region, an industry group urged.

The State Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor was formally requested to sue Mastermyne Group over the death of employee Graham Dawson at Sojitz’s Gregory Crinum Coal Mine, 309km west of Rockhampton.

The experienced labour hire worker died after the mine roof collapsed and crushed him back on 14 September 2021. A rescue crew took four days to recover the 60-year-old’s body.

The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) claims industry safety and health representatives found Mastermyne’s strata control systems inadequately prevented strata failure, which was allegedly responsible for killing Dawson.

“The company was grossly neglectful. Not only by not having an adequate plan to keep workers safe but also by not acting on recommendations to improve safety for workers until it was too late,” MEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said in a public statement.

“We are pursuing a prosecution because Queensland coal communities deserve explanations as to why these agencies decide against seeking justice for the families and workmates who are left to pick up the pieces after these devastating incidents.”

The Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor had announced no charges over the fatality at the time of publication.

“On too many occasions of fatalities and serious injuries, no charges have been laid or charges have been laid and then withdrawn – with no explanation to mining communities about why this has happened,” Smyth said.

“People feel that the lives of coal miners are not valued.”

Parent company Metarock Group previously reviewed organisational safety at the mine and found no significant problems.

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

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

The employer claimed “positive workforce moral” was evident at all mine sites and employees trusted management.

“[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,” it said.

The State Government separately launched a parliamentary inquiry into coal mine safety, after Dawson and Gavin Feltwell died at Anglo American’s Moranbah North Coal Mine (211km southwest of Mackay) seven months later.

State Resources Minister Scott Stewart hopes to shed light on Anglo’s response to 65 Terry Martin inquiry recommendations, following a 2020 underground explosion that injured five employees at the Grosvenor Coal Mine – 199km southwest of Mackay.

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