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Top 10 articles of 2015

safety management systems should assist management
Safety management systems should assist management to run a business

As another huge year in the mining and resources industry comes to an end, we have compiled a list of the 10 most popular mine safety stories of 2015.


10. Workers evacuated from Glencore’s Newlands Mine

All coal mine workers were withdrawn as a precaution from underground workings at Glencore’s Newlands coal mine near Glenden in the northern Bowen Basin in September.

A statement from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines said mine management activated the withdrawal after one atmosphere monitor inside a sealed longwall section recorded potentially-high gas concentrations and triggered an alert.

The statement said workers will not be permitted to re-enter the underground workings of the mine until a risk assessment has been completed and it demonstrates atmosphere levels are safe for re-entry.

9. Unfair dismissal of Moolarben mine worker upheld

A Moolarben mine worker had his appeal against an unfair dismissal decision rejected by the Fair Work Commission in January.

Andrew Maunder was dismissed in March 2014 from the NSW coal mine for serious safety breaches involving maintenance work carried out on a EX112 Shovel.

The mechanical technician failed to properly isolate the shovel, and also failed to undertake a Take 5 risk assessment;  facts which Mr Maunder does not contest.

Mr Maunder’s appeal against his unfair dismissal was made on the grounds of differential treatment.

8. Deadly “Black Lung” disease re-emerges in Queensland

Three cases of Black Lung were detected in three months at coal mines in Queensland, in what could be the tip of the iceberg for a disease that had been wiped out in Australia half a century ago.

Black LungBlack Lung, or Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis, is caused by a build up of coal dust in the lungs due to inadequate ventilation and health standards in coalmines.

While a regulatory system was set up to monitor and detect a range of health issues affecting coalmine workers, which included providing regular x-rays, the miners union believes the system has not been maintained and is compromised.

CFMEU Queensland District President Stephen Smyth confirmed the new cases, sparking fears the deadly disease had re-emerged in unknown proportions.

7. Driver of water truck loses disciplinary dispute with BHP

Disciplinary action against the driver of a water truck who inadvertently caused an accident at BHP’s Peak Downs mine was deemed appropriate by the Fair Work Commission, in February.

The worker, Mr Julio Reyes, was verbally counselled as part of Step 1 of BHP’s disciplinary process, after he over-watered a section of road which led to a second water tanker slipping and toppling on its side.

The driver of the second water tanker was injured in the accident and the tanker was damaged beyond repair. BHP was forced to replace the tanker at a cost of $1,200,000.

Through his lawyers, Mr Reyes told the Fair Work Commission that the disciplinary action was inappropriate as he had followed the site’s standard procedure for applying water to the road.

However, Commissioner Lewin from the Fair Work Commission found that the disciplinary action was fair as Mr Reyes was required to exercise some judgement in his role.

6. Mine worker killed and another injured at mine near Moura

A mine worker was killed and another injured on February 16 when a truck tyre exploded at a mine near Moura in Central Queensland.

Media reported the Queensland Ambulance Service had confirmed one worker was taken to Theodore hospital by Ambulance with a shoulder injury.

The incident occurred at Anglo American’s Dawson Mine, near Moura.

5. Investigation report into fatality at Ravensworth mine released

ravensworthsA range of factors including poor road design, poor signage, bad lighting and an ‘over-reliance on administrative controls’ all contributed in the death of worker at Ravensworth mine in 2013, according to an investigation report.

On November 30, 2013, trainee plant operator Ingrid Forshaw was killed at the Ravensworth open cut mine near Singleton when the Toyota LandCruiser she was driving collided with a Caterpillar 793D haul dump truck.

The 351 tonne haul truck was carrying 186 tonne of coal when it ran over the Landcruiser. Ms Forshaw died immediately at the scene from multiple injuries.

4. Third fatality for Newcrest mining

A 28-year-old worker was killed at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Operations, near Orange, on September 6.

The man, a father-of-two, was working at the Ridgeway gold mine underground as a mine technician when he was struck by a piece of machinery and died at the scene.

Newcrest Mining halted production at the operations and said they were assisting the New South Wales police and government mine safety inspectors.

It was the third fatality for Newcrest this year, with two deaths in recent months at its Telfer mine in May and at its Hidden Valley PNG project in June.

3. WA miner injured after horseplay on site

The Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum issued a Significant Incident Report in June after a miner was injured as a result of “horseplay”.

The incident occurred when a dogger and excavator operator were test-lifting a polypipe spool and valve assembly, and another worker, not related to the activity, entered the area from behind the excavator and threw a rope through an open window of the excavator.

The report said this action “startled” the operator, and lead to the excavator’s load swinging into the dogger’s leg.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service flew the injured worker from site to Perth for medical attention, and he later had surgery

2. Ridgeway mine death prompts employee monitoring 

An investigation into the death of a 28-year-old worker at Cadia Ridgeway gold mine on September 6 recommended regular monitoring of people working alone.

Screenshot 2015-09-22 at 1.59.45 PMThe Mine Safety Investigation Unit report found the father-of-two was alone for more than an hour after receiving fatal injuries when he became trapped between the rear of the mobile plant he was operating and the sidewall of an underground extraction drive.

The report said the worker commenced his shift at 7pm, and was last seen by colleagues at 9pm working alone on a Jacon Maxijet shotcreting machine that had been modified to a water cannon.

His body was found by workers at about 10.15pm. The report outline a number of safety observations and recommended systems to ensure persons working alone are regularly monitored.

1. Seat belt training recommended after fatal dump truck rollover

The importance of seat belts in mining vehicles was highlighted in a report released by the DMP after a fatal dump truck rollover in November.

Screenshot 2015-11-23 at 1.37.37 PMThe dump truck operator was killed on a Western Australian site while hauling waste rock from an open pit to the waste dump.

“For reasons unknown, the operator failed to negotiate a slight left-hand bend and the truck took a gradual path to the left before colliding with the hard rock windrow,” the significant incident report said.

“Tyre marks indicate that the truck’s front and rear left tyres mounted the windrow, and the dump truck rolled onto its right side. There is no evidence of braking before or at the time the truck mounted the windrow.”

The report listed actions in accordance with the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995, which includes each vehicle used at the mine fitted with seat belts and seat belt anchorage points, and people driving or travelling in a vehicle with a seat belt to fasten it.


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AMSJ April 2022