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Coppabella Mine Investigation Reveals How Fitter Was Crushed

Coppabella mine investigation reveals how fitter was crushed

A site investigation into an incident that left a coal miner with life-threatening injuries after he was crushed onsite has exposed concerns in safety protocols.

The Coal Inspectorate review into the incident in which the 42-year-old fitter was crushed by a truck tyre at Peabody’s Coppabella mine found protocols allowed the work in a dangerous area inside an exclusion zone.

The rear dump truck was parked on the workshop washdown pad at 8.45am when workers conducted a job safety analysis for using “live testing protocols” during the washdown task.

The work being done was allowed “under the mine’s safety and health management system”, the audit found.

“A worker suffered life threatening injuries in an incident that occurred during a routine wash down of a rear dump truck being undertaken by four coal mine workers,” the safety bulletin states.

“The mine’s safety and health management system permitted the work to be conducted under ‘live testing’ protocols.

“These protocols allowed: the truck operator to be in the cab and the truck to be powered to raise and lower the tub and turn the front wheels; and coal mine workers to operate water cannons in close proximity to the vehicle and inside an area that would ordinarily be an exclusion zone.

“The rear dump truck was parked on the workshop washdown pad.

“The workers conducted a job safety analysis for using ‘live testing protocols’ during the washdown task.”

The inspectorate’s review found spray from a water cannon the injured miner was operating hit an E-stop on the position two wheel side of the engine, shutting the engine down.

“The worker stopped the water cannon and entered the space between the position 2 wheel and the engine to reset the E-Stop,” the report read.

“It appears neither the truck operator nor other workers were aware of the location of the injured worker.

“The truck operator was directed by one of the other workers to turn the front wheels to the left, which resulted in the injured worker being pinned between the tyre and a ladder, causing multiple injuries to his upper body.”

Injuries included broken ribs and serious abdominal and lung injuries.

Nearby workers freed the man who was treated by ambulance officers and mine paramedics onsite.

An RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter arrived at 10am, and the man was flown to Mackay Base Hospital.

In a brief statement on November 1, the man’s wife said he was “doing better than yesterday”.

The review found that even when he engine was shut down, “energy was available to turn the front wheels”, thereby exposing the worker to a hazard in the area.

The site’s protocols failed to ensure that the locations of all workers were known to each other, the report found, “meaning they were unable to verify that the injured worker was in a safe location before a truck movement occurred”.

“The work being conducted was a repetitive task for which a JSA is likely not adequate to properly identify and manage risks,” it states.

Coppabella’s site senior executives have been advised to ensure repetitive and routine tasks were subject to a comprehensive risk assessment to identify and control hazards, and communicate the safety alert to all coal mine workers.

Supervisors have been advised to review work plans of workers required to conduct maintenance work under live testing protocols.

A Peabody spokesman said Resource Safety and Health Queensland were notified about the incident, and the mining body was in “full co-operation in any investigation of the incident”.

“Paramedics from the mine’s Emergency Response Team and Queensland Ambulance attended and the worker was airlifted to Mackay Hospital,” the spokesman said.

“Workers who were involved or attended the scene to assist were offered counselling through our Employee Assistance Program.

“Peabody is also in contact with our contractor partner to offer support.”

Investigations are continuing.


This Post Has One Comment
  1. Hi Stuart,
    This accident shows where the weakness with the management of the industry based on risk analysis.
    Washing a dump truck is a high frequent low risk task, admittedly not normally done with 4 people, the people involved believe they followed the rules however someone was seriously hurt.
    Grosvenor had similar behaviors just not at a coal mine worker level.
    Change management is more critical then risk management sometimes, and I am assuming change management was not considered as part of the jsa’s.
    Seriously, do we expect coal miners doing a task to be able to undertake a what if scenario analysis and get it right every time ?
    In this case the person injured was in a no go zone, and it is not good enough for the person injured to be given responsibility for the incident. Those days should be behind us.

    Do we expect coal mine workers in this case to stop and replan the tasks to reset the emergency stop? if we do, then we need to get out of the office and onto the job sites more often. From an SSE point of view where does this mine site go to prevent a similiar incident from occurring. Not in the sense of washing a dump truck, in a sense of risk assessing away risks that should never happen. Critical risk is just that critical.

    From a management perspective how do you prevent this type of incident / near miss. Everyone thinking they are following the rules and someone still is seriously hurt. I say near miss because it could have been a fatality – no control was evident to prevent it, only good luck. I could imagine in both open cuts and undergrounds every shift where coal mine workers risk assess away controls that should be sacrosanct.
    Normally no go zones mean just that.
    I was on a construction site recently and there were observers from the principal company observing this group that were there doing a job for several hours. I thought it was a bit much, considering it was supposedly low risk work. When discussing it with the principal, risk was not relevant in their decision to observe the work. it is just what they do.

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