25/10/2013 - 09:22

BHP fined over 2008 mine death

25/10/2013 - 09:22

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BHP Billiton Iron Ore and its former contractor HWE Newman Services have been handed a total of $238,000 in fines in relation to the death of a worker at BHP's Yandi mine near Newman five years ago.

BHP fined over 2008 mine death

BHP Billiton Iron Ore and its former contractor HWE Newman Services have been handed a total of $238,000 in fines in relation to the death of a worker at BHP's Yandi mine near Newman five years ago. 

Mobile maintenance supervisor Paul Sparkes was fatally struck in August 2008 when an arm of a tyre handler device sprung off as a heavy earth mover tyre was overinflated at the mine, which was operated at the time by HWE.

The Perth Magistrate's Court yesterday heard that BHP and HWE failed to provide the necessary equipment for safe tyre assembly and that Mr Sparkes did not receive sufficient training for the task.

BHP was fined $102,000 and HWE was fined $136,000.

Both companies also had to pay a total of $125,000 in court costs.

Magistrate Steven Malley said that while there was not a blatant disregard for safety, there had been a systems failure with dire consequences.

An investigation by the Department of Mines and Petroleum in April found the companies guilty of failing to provide a safe working environment. 

"The majority of mining companies are operating to high safety standards right now - but there are always some occasions where more needs to be done, and this was certainly a tragic event back in 2008," DMP resources safety executive director Simon Ridge said.

"That is why it is crucial for the department to continue to hold to account those who aren't doing the right thing."

A series of deaths at its mine sites led BHP Billiton to take over operations at its Area C, Yandi and Orebody 23/25 operations in the Pilbara in 2011.

BHP bought the HWE Mining business, previously a subsidiary of Leighton Holdings, for about $700 million in August that year.

The company has maintained a stronger safety record since taking over these operations.

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