Fatalities still plague coal mining industry

COAL mining fatalities remain a burning issue as the miners’ union holds its 20th annual Memorial Day Service this Sunday at Cessnock in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley to commemorate the 1800 lost in mine accidents in NSW coalmines.
Fatalities still plague coal mining industry Fatalities still plague coal mining industry Fatalities still plague coal mining industry Fatalities still plague coal mining industry Fatalities still plague coal mining industry

A re-enactment of where the sparky was standing before he received a serious collision injury. Photo courtesy of Qld DNRM Nov 2014.

Lou Caruana

The situation in NSW is improving but in Queensland resource sector fatalities in 2014-15 were the highest for 20 years.

Representatives from the industry agreed at a meeting earlier this year that a “business as usual” approach would not suffice any longer and the issue needed urgent attention, Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche said.

CFMEU Northern Mining and NSW Energy district president Peter Jordan said this Sunday’s event was an important occasion for the local community to pay its respects to those who have lost their lives in coal mining disasters in the region.

“This annual event is an important time for the families of the 1,800 local mineworkers who are commemorated on the memorial wall,” he said.

“It’s also important for our community to come together and remember those who are no longer with us, and we’d encourage everyone to come along.

“This year we are very thankful that we have not lost a mineworker in a disaster in our region and will not need to add new names to the memorial wall.”

The NSW Department of Resources and Energy has instituted a new database and systems to identify trends which will help put in place preventative measures after the state reported five workplace fatalities over an eight-month period.

The NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts said he became concerned about the statistics and wanted to institute a systemic response to the fatalities.

Jordan said the union and the Mineworkers Trust would be unveiling a new mural at the event which would now sit next to the Jim Comerford Memorial Wall.

“We have organised a large five panel mural which represents the history of the coal mining industry in our district and reflects on the impacts of disasters on local families,” Jordan said.

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