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$250k fine over fatal workplace accident

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$250k fine over fatal workplace accident

Perth District Court

A quarter of a million dollar penalty has been handed down to a company over the 2015 death of one of its employees in a workplace accident, which authorities said occurred despite “warning signs”.

Explosives company Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific was given the penalty by the Perth Magistrates Court on Monday (1 April), after pleading guilty to its role in the fatal accident.

According to WA’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, employee Joshua Martin had been working as a mobile processing unit (MPU) operator at the Telfer Gold Mine on 15 May 2015 when he suffered fatal injuries in an accident.

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The department said in a statement that Mr Martin was working from a basket on an elevated work platform connected to the MPU, when he inadvertently activated the controls when leaning over them. This raised the basket, causing him to be crushed.

Another worker and a night-shift supervisor both tried to lower the platform, but found them to be not functioning.

An independent report following the accident found that, while the platform was operating correctly, the basket controls did not have adequate guards in place and did not comply with relevant Australian safety standards, the department said.

It also said, the report noted, that this was not an isolated occurrence, and that three of the five other operators interviewed, including a supervisor, had inadvertently activated the basket by leaning on them.

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“There were warning signs leading up to this incident which, tragically, were not heeded,” said Andrew Chaplyn, the department’s director of mines safety.

Mr Chaplyn noted that since the accident, Dyno Nobel has made “a number of changes to improve safety”, including the installation of guards to protect the controls from accidental activation, as well as fitting crush-protection frames to its platforms and changes to its procedures, controls and pre-start safety checks.

“While these changes improved safety, it should not have taken the death of a worker for them to be introduced,” he said.

“I implore all mining operations to ensure safety is an absolute priority and that they have the procedures, processes and protections in place to safeguard their workers.”

In addition to the $250,000 fine, the company was also ordered to pay costs of $30,000.

Dyno Nobel has been contacted for comment.

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