A faulty stopping device is likely to have caused an underground employee fatality.
Authorities recently examined circumstances surrounding a mine worker who was unresponsive and died on 28 April 2023.
Investigators discovered the work lift he operated was 20 metres below the surface with cables strewn across the floor.
“The person riding hoist and pendant control at the bottom of the shaft with the steel cable fully unspooled from the hoist’s drum. The hoist’s emergency arresting (lockout) device did not appear to have engaged. The hoist was operated by a Conon single phase 2 HP motor and worm drive gearbox,” Resources Regulator major safety investigations chief investigator Andrew McColm said in a safety notice.
The grim finding came weeks after loved ones expressed concern about not hearing from the same person at the end of the day. They eventually found him died at the Coocoran mine site, 30km north of Lightning Ridge.
“Friends of the miner attended his claim about 5:30pm because they had not heard from him for several hours and were concerned for his welfare. The miner was later found deceased near the base of the shaft,” the notice said.
“The miner was seen leaving Lightning Ridge to attend his opal claim about 6:30pm on Friday 28 April 2023. The miner was known to work the claim alone.”
McColm recommended the following:
- riding hoists must have both a brake and an emergency arrestor
- hoists should be regularly tested and maintained to ensure they are operating correctly
- consider risks associated with winder systems and implement measures to prevent mechanical and/or electrical failures.