18/06/2020 - 10:55

Griffin Coal fined over worker fatality

18/06/2020 - 10:55

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Collie mining company Griffin Coal has been fined $210,000 and ordered to pay $23,000 in costs over a workplace fatality in 2018.

Griffin Coal has been fined over a workplace casualty at its Ewington coal mine. Photo: Dominik Vanyi

Collie mining company Griffin Coal has been fined $210,000 and ordered to pay $23,000 in costs over a workplace fatality in 2018.

Griffin Coal pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia to failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment.

The incident occurred at Griffin's Ewington mine site, located about eight kilometres east of Collie.

The Department of Mines Industry Regulation and Safety issued an incident report that year, which noted face shovel operator Neville Bentley had died after being crushed between a hydraulic access ladder and fixed handrail.

Mr Bentley was attempting to access a face shovel’s electrical stop switch after it suddenly lost power.

During this time, a hydraulic ladder was activated and rotated anti-clockwise while Mr Bentley was in the line-of-fire, the department said.

Co-workers and paramedics attempted to resuscitate Mr Bentley after he was found on the shovel platform.

Mines safety director Andrew Chaplyn said the incident was an important reminder to mining companies to prioritise safety.

“Western Australia has a comprehensive code of practice in relation to safeguarding machinery and plant,” he said.

“The code specifically warns about crushing hazards, including the risk of a worker being caught between a machine part and a fixed structure.

“This incident highlights the need for mining companies to conduct ongoing risk assessments and to implement the recommended order of control measures, known as the ‘hierarchy of control’.

“These measures remove or reduce the risk of injury or harm and include a series of steps ranging from the elimination, substitution and/or isolation of risks through to engineering and administrative controls.”

The department also recommended mining companies undertook audits of shovels and excavators, and reviewed standard operating procedures to include resetting emergency switches.

In a statement, Griffin Coal said the company has promptly taken steps to ensure the incident would not be repeated.

"Griffin Coal extends its sincere condolences again to Mr Bentley’s family in relation to the unfortunate circumstances that lead to Mr Bentley’s death in April 2018," Griffin Coal said.

"(Griffin) has pleaded guilty to a charge that it failed to take all reasonably practicable actions to prevent the incident."

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