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Resources multinational ‘not responsible’ for killing coal employee says judge

Runaway grader
Runaway grader

A mining giant cannot be faulted for one workplace fatality, a court found.

Brisbane Magistrates Court recently ruled Anglo American was never responsible for the death of Bradley Hardwick at the Moranbah North Coal Mine, 211km southwest of Mackay.

This was despite a faulty park brake causing the PPK Mining Equipment grader to roll backwards and strike a drift runner carrying 11 workers. The 14.8 tonne force fatally crushed Hardwick whose body was found lying on the ground with his feet pointing towards the mine’s surface. Another three men were injured back in the year 2019.

Magistrate Michael Quinn believes the employer satisfied all health and safety obligations. However, it could have better tested and maintained the park brake mechanism.

“Anglo are not able to rely upon someone else not doing something that it was their duty to do,” Quinn said according to the Australian Associated Press.

The employer previously claimed it knew nothing about the grader’s “design flaws”, and only the original equipment manufacturer possessed this knowledge. PPK had allegedly developed a control for the hazard but failed to disclose this information in “breach of its obligations” under the Act.

However, the magistrate rejected part of that argument based on a 1998 schematic which shows Anglo employees recorded warnings about a potential braking system feature. Park brake safety notices can also apply to service brakes from a legal perspective.

“I accept those facts that Anglo had access to those records at all relevant times, should have accessed them, should have understood their meaning and acted upon them,” he said according to the newswire agency.

The court accepted written submissions on potential contravention penalties at the time of publication.

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