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Mining boss accepts blame for poor work environment

BHP CEO Mike Henry
BHP CEO Mike Henry

A resources executive acknowledged his employer was responsible for substandard conditions.

BHP accepted fault for the recent deaths of fitter Nathan Scholz and colleague Jody Byrne.

Scholz, who was employed by Exact Mining Services, passed away when a light vehicle fatally struck him on 25 April 2023 near the Olympic Dam mine. Byrne died from a BHP train accident at the Boodarie rail yard on 7 February 2023.

Both incidents occurred within the space of just 11 weeks. BHP had earlier celebrated four years without a workplace fatality in its operational review for the year ending on 31 December 2022.

CEO Mike Henry believes while the proponent made progress in recent years, it could do more to ensure every worker returns home safely at the end of each shift.

“That really does tell us that we are not getting the most important basics right,” he told shareholders in Spain.

“We need to shift gears yet again. We are going to be determining what went wrong and we will share our learnings widely. We will also be seeking to learn from others as to how they are handling safety in our efforts to become safer.”

The remarks came days after former employee Ryan John Zabaznow was found guilty of sexually penetrating a female fly-in fly-out (FIFO) colleague without consent at a BHP Newman mine camp.

The Perth District Court jury rejected Zabaznow’s claims the sex was consensual after reviewing social media messages between the pair. The 37-year-old had argued he was not a “c–t”.

The unidentified female allegedly drank about 15 mid-strength beers, vomited and passed out in a donga on 18 November 2020. Zabaznow was accused of climbing into bed with the woman whose clothes were missing below the waist.

The incident ended after two coworkers knocked on the door after hearing someone moan and cry. They asked whether the intercourse was consensual before ordering Zabaznow to leave.

The woman later told the site supervisor Zabaznow’s intimacy was not consensual. The employer carried out an internal investigation and eventually terminated the accused before Christmas 2020.

A company spokesperson commended the woman’s “courage and bravery” and described sexual violence as “completely unacceptable”.

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