Assess the Risks

Assess the Risks

An employer that failed to properly assess the risks associated with moving heavy objects has been fined $130,000, after a worker was crushed to death.

Perth Magistrate Martin Flynn said the fact that the Western Australian employer – Exact Mining Services – had performed the same task for 10 years without prior incident didn’t reduce the seriousness of the offence, which involved a “significant failure to not address a foreseeable risk”.

“Companies cannot become complacent and allow unsafe practices to occur during their usual operations,” the Magistrate said.

In December 2014, two Exact Mining workers were working on one section of a 60-metre-long polyethylene pipe, while an industrial forklift moved another section, when the workers’ section suddenly slipped.

The pipe hit one of the workers and fatally crushed the other against the ground.

The State Department of Mines and Petroleum issued a safety alert after the incident, which occurred at a tailings storage facility at the Telfer Gold Mine.

In the Magistrates Court, the employer pleaded guilty to breaching the State Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 in failing to provide a safe environment.

“A proper risk assessment would have revealed pipe slide as a hazard,” Magistrate Flynn said.

The safe operating procedure was deficient and “didn’t prohibit simultaneous operations at both ends”, he said.

“When there is a very large, heavy object being moved while workers may be close by, the employer needs to look very closely at its procedures.”

Department of Mines and Petroleum state mining engineer Andrew Chaplyn said the employer’s failings placed the two workers “in the direct line of fire in the event of uncontrolled movement of the pipe”.

“[The worker’s] death was the result of the company’s failure to put adequate safety measures in place and serves as a strong reminder that safety needs to be the number one priority for everyone, including mine operators,” he said.

In other news, the DMP has released a significant incident report after an underground mine supervisor was pinned between an integrated tool carrier’s basket and a moving long-haul drill rig.

The supervisor had been inspecting the basket from the ground, and needed surgery for crush injuries to his lower abdomen.

Therefore making sure you assess the risks regularly will make sure accidents do not happen!