Calls for BMA safety review after Saraji fatality

WHILE operations at the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Saraji mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin are slowly starting to restart after the tragic New Year’s Eve death of 49-year-old dozer operator Allan Houston, there are calls for the company to review its safety procedures after claims emergency personnel took 90 minutes to arrive.
Calls for BMA safety review after Saraji fatality  Calls for BMA safety review after Saraji fatality  Calls for BMA safety review after Saraji fatality  Calls for BMA safety review after Saraji fatality  Calls for BMA safety review after Saraji fatality

BMA's Saraji open cut mine in Queensland.

The mining union is calling for a "reset" across all BMA Central Queensland coal mines after the death.
 
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union said it was calling on BHP to provide information to its workforce on areas of concern at all seven mines operating under the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance: Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Daunia, Peak Downs, Saraji, Blackwater and Caval Ridge.
 
"We are concerned that safety incidents on BHP mines are not leading to an adequate review of operating procedures, neither at the site the incident occurred nor across BHP's network of mines," CFMEU Queensland president Stephen Smyth said.
 
"BHP has thousands of lives in its hands every day across its Central Queensland coal mines.
 
"We are aware that Allan's death has followed a number of near misses. In the wake of this week's shocking fatality, workers are looking for greater reassurance that the company's rhetoric about safety is being matched by action."
 
Areas that the CFMEU is seeking further information from BHP include Emergency response capability; access and egress into work areas; and review of dozer operations.
 
BHP said in a statement that as part of its commitment to safety BMA would conduct an internal investigation as a priority to start immediately. 
 
"We are saddened to confirm that 49-year-old Allan Houston from the Rockhampton region died during an incident where the dozer he was operating at Saraji rolled from an elevated position at around 10pm [Queensland time] on December 31 2018," it said.  
 
"The site Emergency Response Team was activated immediately following the incident and appropriate authorities engaged."
 
"BMA is committed to sharing the findings in a thorough and transparent manner when completed."
 
The Queensland Mines Inspectorate said it was investigating the fatality.
 
"To ensure safety is front of mind, the Mines Inspectorate will issue a Safety Notice to all Queensland coal mines to help reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future," it said.
 
"As the investigation is underway we are unable to comment further at this stage."
The CFMEU said it was aware of a number of vehicle rollovers at BHP mine sites over the past year, similar in nature to the incident that caused Allan Houston's death, including a near drowning from a dozer rollover just six months ago.
 
In addition to operational safety concerns, the CFMEU has reports from members disappointed about the response to this week's fatality from mine management across BHP sites, which was inconsistent and in many cases did not reflect the seriousness of the event and the concern of workers.
 
Smyth said the CFMEU would not let Allan Houston's death be in vain.
 
"This is an opportunity to review and reset the whole safety culture on BHP sites. That includes not only the way we work, but the treatment of workers who raise safety issues and make compensation claims. This is what CFMEU members will be standing up for."
 
BHP said Houston was a well-known and popular member of the Saraji and Workpac team. 
 
"Allan began his career as an apprentice boilermaker at Blackwater mine in approximately 1988 and since then, worked in the industry at various mines in Queensland," it said.
 
"Allan's father, Winston, had a long history in the Blackwater region and was a well-known and respected dragline operator for many years. Allan's family is especially proud of his reputation as a highly skilled dozer and dragline operator."