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Bulga Underground Operations: Convicted of Health and Safety Breach for 2010 Workplace Accident

Posted by Robert O'Neill on Dec 9, 2014 8:11:00 PM
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beltana mineBulga Underground was found guilty and convicted for breaching workplace health and safety laws that resulted in a worker being seriously injured at the Beltana mine in 2010.

Employee Steven McNab reported to have suffered several severe injuries on April 23. The injuries were a result of McNab falling down and being crushed between the side of a continuous armoured face conveyor and the toe of an automated advancing roof support.

While McNab has no recollection of the incident and how it occurred, it was noted that the possibility of him being hit in the head with a flying rock was clearly identified.

A few moments after the said incident, McNab was found semiconscious on the ground while being simultaneously being pinned by the machinery. His temple was observed to have been freshly grazed, his helmet was off, and some piece of roof stone was found lying on his thigh.

Amidst all these, Bulga Underground Operations pleaded not guilty to contravention of Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000’s section 8(1).

The defense party made claims that the type of event that happened was something unpredictable and further explained that there were no similar injuries of this type that had previously occurred based on the long work experience of expert witness of Beltana’s mine and electrical engineer Peter Henderson since 2003.

Following the said incident, miners working with McNab in the same team eventually suggested that an additional crew member can make a significant contribution in terms of being a support advance controller, for which he could serve as a keen spotter for drum controllers with the ability to stop the machinery if danger is observed to be imminent.

A report from Newcastle Herald mentioned that only around five weeks prior the said incident, another employee from the Beltana Mine suffered some injuries after being hit on the head and shoulder. The object was identified to have been a large piece of coal that was thrown out as he was operating a DBT EL3000 longwall shearer, a machine to have been reported as purchased in 2003 by Henderson.

The court made a ruling on Wednesday that the safety measures and precautions put in place did not minimise nor eliminate the risks associated with the duties carried out by McNab.

Judge Curtis ruled “notwithstanding the matters raised . . . I have concluded that the circumstances in which [the miner] came to be injured were foreseeable to a reasonable person standing in the place of the defendant.’’

Judge Curtis further explained that the defendant failed to minimise the foreseeable risk by taking practicable measures and precautions of employing the services of an additional worker in the team, whose main task was to observe the drum operators and prevent the advancement of roof supports if the drum operator became disabled.

The said court will be handing out the sentence on Bulga Underground Operations at a later date.

A spokeperson for Glencore reported that the company may consider its options for an appeal.


Topics: Blog, Occupational Health and Wellbeing