WA court fines Griffin Coal $210,000

A West Australian coal miner has been fined $210,000 over the death of a worker at a Collie mine site in 2018. The man, in his 40s, had been trying to stop a tracked mobile shovel at the Ewington mine when a hydraulic ladder was activated and he was pinned against a fixed handrail. He was unable to be revived by co-workers and paramedics.

A State Government report a month after the accident found the emergency shutdown switch was difficult to access, the operating procedure for the shovel was inadequate, the ladder was not isolated before the engine shutdown and there was inadequate lighting in the area.

Griffin Coal pleaded guilty in the WA Magistrates Court to failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment for its employees. The Department of Mines Industry Regulation and Safety’s Andrew Chaplyn said the incident was a reminder to mining companies to make safety a priority.

“This incident highlights the need for mining companies to conduct ongoing risk assessments and to implement the recommended order of control measures, known as the ‘hierarchy of control,” Mr Chaplyn said.

Under the State Government’s proposed laws employers could be charged with industrial manslaughter, with penalties up to 20 years’ jail and fines up to $5 million for an individual and $10 million for a corporation. The State Government is hoping the laws will pass parliament in August.

Mines Minister Bill Johnston said the fine was too low. He said the penalty could have been five times higher under current laws. However, he said since the incident the State Government had increased the maximum penalty for workplace deaths from $625,000 to $3.5 million.

If the accident had happened a few months later, the penalty would have been higher, Mr Johnston said.

“If this terrible incident had occurred after October 2018 then the penalty probably would have been five times more.”

“But of course that is still not sufficient to compensate a family for the loss of a life.”

Source: ABC News

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