Ninety-three miners working underground at the longwall mine were evacuated on Friday, after non-flammable hydraulic fluid spilt onto a hot conveyor gearbox, filling the area with thick smoke.
“One self-rescuer was found to have a fault and as a result we have removed that batch from the site and are conducting tests to determine what the fault was – those SCSRs are not in use,” Rickards said.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union health and safety representative Tim Whyte told ILN that four units had failed, resulting in the miners being hospitalised with respiratory problems.
Whyte said he had called on Queensland chief inspector of coal mines Brian Lyon to issue a safety alert to all mines and recall the batch of safety equipment, but was refused.
“He refused to do that – he didn’t believe it was warranted until the test results came back … I said we’ve had four blokes hospitalised – what more proof do you need that they didn’t work?” White said.
“If something happens between here and when the test results come back it is going to look very poorly on the industry that we’ve had this information and done nothing with it.”
Whyte said the union had since sent out a safety alert to all mines and requested the removal of that batch.
He said the incident also brought another safety issue to light, after it was found the mine did not have adequate segregation stoppings in place.
“When the fire occurred in the belt road, instead of it being segregated from the main intake roadways by segregation stoppings, they weren’t in place, so the smoke went into the intake roadways and affected the longwall and development panels,” Whyte said.
“If the stoppings were in place the smoke wouldn’t have entered the working areas.”
ILN could not contact the Queensland Mines Inspectorate for comment at the time of publishing.