Qld's plastic bag scare

QUEENSLAND’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines has shed more light on a high potential incident where a plastic bag was placed over a methane sensor.
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Blair Price

As it was mentioned in Friday’s Queensland Mines and Quarries Safety Performance and Health Report 2012-13, this HPI seemed eerily familiar.

The use of plastic bags to stop methane sensors from triggering alerts happened at the Pike River coal mine in New Zealand before the gas explosions of that mine disaster three years ago, which claimed 29 lives.

This was part of the evidence that came out from the royal commission into the disaster, with the practice symbolic of the mine’s troubled safety culture.

However, after several days, a DNRM spokesman revealed that the plastic bag incident in Queensland had entirely different circumstances.

“A bag had been placed over the sensor of a piece of mobile plant on the surface to protect the sensor while the equipment was being cleaned,” DNRM told ILN.

“The bag was inadvertently left in place after cleaning but was detected straight away by another coal mine worker. This was promptly reported to the company, which launched an investigation, and then to the inspectorate. There was no suggestion or evidence of deliberate tampering with the device.

“This was regarded as an isolated incident to which the industry responded rapidly and thoroughly.”