Late yesterday afternoon, Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union district president Stephen Smyth detailed the background he received from the workforce-elected site safety and health representatives at the mine.
He told ILN the mine was training operators to do bolt-ups in preparation for bolting up the face as part of a forthcoming longwall move.
The training was taking place in a different part of the mine using a mobile roof-bolter but the roof-bolter came off the temporary panlines set up for the training exercise and hit two workers.
Smyth said one worker was knocked out unconscious, while the other received minor cuts and a bit of a “fright”
He said the man who was knocked out “came to” and is alright.
“As you can imagine he has got the headaches,” Smyth said.
But he added that both men were very lucky.
While underground coal mining might never be completely free of such safety scares, Smyth was concerned about the lack of preparation for the training exercise.
“To cut a long story short, they didn’t bolt it down properly, they didn’t do any risk assessments, they didn’t do any of the safety stuff,” he said.
Smyth labelled this as a “cowboy approach in this day in age”
“What they are doing, training them, is fine they just need to do it right.”
A Vale spokesman confirmed the incident took place during a training exercise at the mine on Sunday but was unable to provide many more details.
“At this point we cannot accurately tell you the extent of the incident other than to say that it involved three of our people,” he said.
“We can confirm that all employees were immediately given the necessary medical attention and have since returned to work.
“We would like to confirm that the incident was reported to the relevant authorities immediately and that an investigation is currently being conducted, following due process in conjunction with appropriate stakeholders to identify the root cause so to prevent a recurrence.”
A Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) Mines spokesman also confirmed to ILN the incident was reported and an investigation was underway.