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Opal miner injured by falling material

An opal miner has suffered a spinal injury after being struck by falling mullock when attempting to close a hopper door with a star picket.

A safety alert released by NSW Mine Safety this week said the worker was investigating a hopper door malfunction on the surface at an opal mine.

“The worker used a star picket to push the door closed when material ejected from the hopper, striking him,” the alert said.

“Mine Safety inspectors examined the hopper and found that the refuse material was moist and caused a build up inside the walls. This in turn caused the exit door to jam open and not seal correctly.”

The following recommendations were made:

  • Ensure that a risk assessment is carried out before undertaking unfamiliar tasks.
  • Assess the potential for rocks and debris to fall and cause injury.
  • Where there is any potential for material to fall from a height which may result in injury, take effective means to prevent such injuries.
  • Any area where materials can accidentally fall onto people should be classified as a danger zone and appropriate guards and warning signs must be provided.
  • Ensure workers are trained and competent in the use of blower extraction systems.
  • Ensure that equipment being used is fit for purpose.

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