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Major heavy vehicle accident hospitalises coal worker

Saraji coal mine
Saraji coal mine

A mine employee is receiving urgent medical attention after earthmoving machinery overturned in Central Queensland.

A Caterpillar D11R dozer recently rolled over at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA’s) Saraji Coal Mine, 231km southwest of Mackay. The accident left the operator with five broken ribs, three pelvis stable fractures, two back stable fractures, “substantial” bruising to the torso plus several cuts and abrasions across the body on 24 January 2023.

“The operator was airlifted to Mackay Hospital … after an incident which took place onsite [and] has suffered internal injuries. [The] BHP BMA Saraji operator is currently in a stable condition,” the Word in the Pit Mining group said on Facebook.

“[He is] unable to hold a conversation due to the significant nature of the operators multiple injuries. The operator has been a long-time employee at BMA Saraji coal mine.”

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) has already launched an investigation into the incident, which occurred less than 12 hours after a different dozer “trammed backwards into a body of water” during January 23 mining support activities at Coronado Global Resources’ Curragh Coal Mine – about 210km west of Rockhampton.

“[Investigators] will share with industry any relevant lessons identified through the investigation when it is complete,” an RSHQ spokesperson said according to News Limited.

Coronado confirmed the Curragh operator exited the dozer “unassisted without injury”.

“Curragh site leadership and the inspector have jointly agreed to temporarily cease dozer operations while the event is investigated. While dozer operations are temporarily suspended all other mining activities at the mine are continuing,” a company spokesperson said according to the media outlet.

The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) has also deployed its own safety inspectors to independently examine what caused the incident.

“Our thoughts are with the injured worker,” MEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said.

The remarks came after RSHQ recorded 10 rollover incidents across the Sunshine State between December 2021 and December 2022. Three incidents occurred at surface mines during July, October and November 2022. Six similar incidents occurred between December 2021 and June 2022 at nine surface mines.

The following key issues were identified at the time:

  • hazard identification was absent or ineffective
  • incorrect methods were used to ascend/descend slopes
  • defective equipment was permitted to continue operating
  • supervisors did not ensure operator training was complete
  • machine operators failed to adequately assess the area before starting work
  • supervisory monitoring or risk control application by operators was either absent or ineffective
  • application of risk controls by supervisor and operator was absent or ineffective at managing identified hazards.

Investigators earlier recommended that all site senior executives should regularly audit the:

  • shift task allocation against the training system and take corrective action when deficiencies are detected
  • system for recording and correcting equipment defects, and take corrective action when deficiencies are found
  • effectiveness of supervisors’ hazard identification and risk control skills, and take corrective action when deficiencies are detected.

Shift supervisors should:

  • confirm operators have identified all workplace hazards
  • confirm proposed risk controls to manage hazards will control the hazard risk
  • review stockpiles to confirm valve locations are easily and readily identifiable for operators
  • monitor risk control effectiveness during shifts and take corrective action when deficiencies are detected
  • require that ground implements (blades and rippers) are kept as low to the ground as possible during operation, particularly when operating on uneven surfaces.

Click here to read the full safety notice.

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