Company fined for safety oversight that led to Telfer Mine death

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Telfer Mine.
Camera IconTelfer Mine. Credit: Bloomberg News, Bloomberg

An industrial explosives and blasting services supply company has been fined a quarter of a million dollars for safety oversights that led to the death of a worker at Telfer Mine in the East Pilbara.

Joshua Martin was working for Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific as a mobile processing unit operator at the mine in May, 2015 when he inadvertently activated the controls of an elevated work platform he was working on and was crushed between the platform and the overheard surface of a tunnel.

Mr Martin had been charging explosives into holes in the tunnel surface in a process known as uphole charging.

An independent report into the incident found the platform had been operating correctly but its basket controls were inadequately guarded and did not comply with Australian safety standards, and a pressure switch on the stabiliser legs was unreliable as an interlocking device.

From interviews with other mobile processing unit operators, investigators found three other operators had on previous occasions also inadvertently set off the platform basket controls by leaning on them.

In a hearing at Perth Magistrate’s Court earlier this month, Dyno Nobel, which pleaded guilty, was ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 plus $30,000 in court costs.

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety director Andrew Chaplyn said the incident should never have happened.

“There were warning signs leading up to this incident which, tragically, were not heeded,” he said.

The company has since made some changes to improve safety including installing guarding to protect elevated work platform controls from accidental activation, fitting crush protection frames to the platforms and updated prestart safety checks.

Mr Chaplyn said he implored all mining operations to ensure safety was an “absolute priority”.

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

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