Ausdrill charged over 2010 mine death

MINING contractor Ausdrill has been charged over the death of a worker at Fortescue Metal Group's Cloudbreak mine in Western Australia in 2010.
Ausdrill charged over 2010 mine death Ausdrill charged over 2010 mine death Ausdrill charged over 2010 mine death Ausdrill charged over 2010 mine death Ausdrill charged over 2010 mine death

Surface miners in operation at FMG's Cloudbreak iron ore operation.

Alison Middleton

The state Department of Mines and Petroleum today confirmed it had filed charges over the death of Paul Torre, who was crushed during a routine maintenance procedure on Christmas Eve in 2010.

Torre was working for Ausdrill Mining Services at the time of the incident, an Ausdrill subsidiary now named BTP Equipment.

BTP Equipment has been charged with failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment.

Meanwhile, a team of DMP inspectors has started an investigation at FMG’s Christmas Creek site following the mine’s second fatality in four months.

Allen Zuvela, a 33-year-old contractor from Spearwood, Perth, was killed on Sunday night while working on a surface miner in the mine’s heavy vehicle workshop. A workmate suffered leg injuries in the incident.

Resources safety executive director and state mining engineer Simon Ridge met with FMG chief executive Nev Power earlier this week as the company was ordered to tighten safety procedures under section 21.1 (O) of the Mine Safety Act 1994.

The direction requires that greater direct supervision and safety checks are provided across all FMG minesites.

It also requires that all isolation and lock out/tag out procedures are verified by a supervisor and, where applicable, an elected health and safety representative.

In a statement posted on the DMP website, director general Richard Sellers said the DMP was conducting a thorough investigation into the recent fatality at FMG’s Christmas Creek minesite and the company was assisting inspectors with investigations.

“While the investigation is underway it is not appropriate for the department to comment further on this incident,” Sellers said.

“As the lead regulator for safety in the resources sector, the department is working constantly with industry to ensure that ‘resilient’ safety cultures are the norm and that best practice standards are adopted across the sector.

“WA’s approach to mine safety is a risk-based approach, which places the onus on operators to demonstrate an understanding of the hazards and risks of their workplace and to demonstrate that they are operating as safely as possible.

“Safety in a workplace is paramount and the ultimate cost of not improving safety is very high.”

Sellers said the department could clarify that previous references in the media, which indicated that DMP had identified some shortcomings in the cultural aspects (of safety) and FMG had agreed that some cultural issues needed addressing, required further context.

“The comments related specifically to a discussion regarding smaller contractors and that FMG was committed to act should they not meet safety expectations,” he added.

“The discussions included a previous example where FMG had removed a contractor.

“Further comments, in which Mr Ridge stated that DMP had also received complaints that FMG workers who raised complaints were victimised in the workplace, also require further context.

“The department receives and acts on all complaints raised from across the sector where it establishes evidence. These comments were not limited to FMG.”

A spokesman for Ausdrill said the company had not yet received notification of formal charges in relation to the incident.