Company fined, not convicted, after near miss

Mandalay Resources Costerfield Operations Pty Ltd (“Mandalay”) owns and operates the Augusta gold-antimony mine in Costerfield.

On 22 May 2016 an employee was working alone in the mine, installing ground support (sheets of steel mesh, resin bolts, friction bolts and securing plates) to the roof and walls of a new length of tunnel, which had involved the use of explosives and then a loader to dig out loosened material.

The company had instructed him on how to install the new ground support, and there was a complex system of work in place. After the employee had finished removing the nuts and plates along the leading edge of the existing mesh on the roof, and was in the process of undoing the air supply from the rattle gun when he heard “a big thump, a bit of a whoosh” behind him. He turned and saw a large piece of rock had fallen from the roof where he had just removed the nuts and bolts to the floor of the tunnel, landing around 1.5m from where he was. The employee was physically uninjured, but suffered a psychological injury and although he continued to work for Mndalay, he was no longer able to work underground. The Court accepted the impact of the incident on the employee to be significant.

A WorkSafe investigation revealed the weight of the piece of rock was estimated to be 2 tonnes.

By its plea of guilty, the company acknowledged the system of work the employee was instructed to perform increased the risk of a fall from ground in the area in which the employee was working, thereby increasing the risk of death or serious injury to the employee, or to anyone else working in the vicinity. Further, that it was reasonably practicable for the offender to provide and maintain a system of work that reduced the risk of a fall of ground whilst ground support was being installed, such as a system of work whereby an extra row of bolts would be installed to support the trailing edge of the overlapping panel back from the final row of bolts used at the edge of the affixed panel.

Mandalay pleaded guilty and was without conviction sentenced to pay a fine of $110,000 and to pay costs of $12,000.

Golf club on good behaviour bond after apprentice suffers burns

In August 2018, an apprentice greenkeeper at the Gisborne Gold Club, together with the greens manager and course manager attempted to light a pile of green waste using diesel, without success. The manager then gave them a container of petrol to use.

The apprentice poured  some of the petrol on the pile and then poured a line of petrol away from the pile for a distance of approximately 4 metres, which he then lit. The green waste caught fire, but the fire died down quickly, so he walked to the other side of the pile and splashed on more petrol. At this point he heard a bang and was suddenly surrounded by flames which singed his face, burned his right hand and caused him to jump back and fall onto a piece of scrap metal which lacerated his left palm.

The club was sentenced, without conviction, to a two year good behaviour bond with a contribution of $10,000 to the Court Fund and was ordered to pay VWA's costs of $3,592.

Bluescope Steel enters into Enforceable Undertaking

Bluescope Steel Ltd, manufacturer of steel, zinc and aluminum coloured products, operates a facility known as Western Post in Hastings. At one of a number of packing stations steel outer edge protection and securing banding was manually wrapped around metal coils - the core of the coils had inner packing fitted for protection during transport. That station was an area of the workplace that contained plant including a conveyor belt and an overhead crane used to move the metal coils.

On 23 April 2017, an employee was working inside a station, trying to pack a metal coil. Some of the packing components were misaligned, so he had to manually re-align them and entered the station to do so. He put his identification tag on the isolation switch as required and then entered the station. Another worker passing by noticed the station was "flashing" but could not see anyone in the vicinity, nor did he see the identification tag on the isolation switch. That other worker then decided to re-energise the switch to move the crane. As that occurred, the first employee's second and third fingers became jammed between the inner edge of the coil and the crane. He suffered de-gloving injuries to those fingers. After the incident, the identification tag was found on the ground beside the isolation switch.

In lieu of prosecution, WorkSafe accepted an Enforceable Undertaking, with an operation period of 18 months, and a total cost to Bluescope to carry it out estimated to be $364,200 excluding GST.

There were three other prosecution summaries provided. To check these and to keep up to date with prosecutions, go to the WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

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