A worker at the mine was struck by the steel tailgate of a truck at Bloomfield’s Rix’s Creek coal mine when he attempted to climb into the trailer under the tailgate while it was suspended to clean out residual material.
He suffered fatal head injuries.
The incident occurred about 9.30am on December 13 2016.
Three trucks were transporting product coal from the coal handling and preparation plant to the train loader. The fourth truck was not operating as it required maintenance.
During the morning, it was identified that residual coal and material had built up in the trailers of the trucks and needed to be cleaned out.
Rather than using water to wash out the trailers, as had been the usual practice prior to that time, the task was undertaken manually.
The first truck was parked near the CHPP at 8.15am with the trailer in the horizontal position.
The deceased worker and two colleagues of the haulage contractor went to the rear of the trailer where the worker used a shovel to lever the tailgate open after the tailgate latching mechanism was released.
The two colleagues then lifted the tailgate high enough to allow the worker to prop the tailgate open using a pipe spanner.
The worker then climbed into the trailer by accessing it under the suspended tailgate and broke up the residual coal and material with the shovel. The task was completed in about 15 minutes.
The second truck returned to the CHPP about 9.15am where it underwent the same cleaning process used on the previous trailer.
The worker’s colleagues lifted the tailgate and held it while the worker placed the pipe spanner in place to prop open the tailgate.
As the worker attempted to climb into the trailer, the pipe spanner moved unexpectedly allowing the tailgate to fall and strike the worker’s head.
The worker suffered critical head injuries.
The worker was flown to the John Hunter Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery and was placed in an induced coma. He later died as a result of his injuries.
“The safety of people working on and around plant and equipment is paramount,” MIERU said in a report.
“Falling plant and equipment pose a serious risk to health and safety and require appropriate control measures to prevent an object from falling.
“Workers should not undertake any work underneath suspended and unsecured plant and equipment.
“Plant and equipment should be cleaned at fit-for-purpose washing facilities that eliminate the need for persons to work underneath suspended and unsecured plant and equipment.”