Mining company fined $65,000 over death of worker in WA

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A mining company has been fined $65,000 over the death of an electrician at a bauxite mine in Western Australia.

The company was fined in the Collie Magistrates Court after an electrician was fatally crushed between a lift car and the lift shaft at the Worsley refinery in 2014.

The 66-year-old man had been working at the Worsley Refinery for 24 years and is believed to have been inspecting the door locks when the incident happened.

Electricians were called to the refinery because the outer doors of a lift at ground level were not closing and the lift could not be operated.

An investigation by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) found the company failed to ensure there were clear written safety procedures that could have prevented Mr. Whitton’s exposure to the hazards.

Mines Safety Director Andrew Chaplyn said the electrician should never have been exposed to the hazards.

“Bypassing the safety circuit, effectively rendered what was theoretically a safe system unsafe,” Mr. Chaplyn said.

“There was no safe work instruction for the complex task of how to fault find this lift. Working on live equipment is inherently dangerous.  All mine operators, supervisors, and workers need to ensure that fault finding for complex automated plant is undertaken under close supervision, without exposure to any danger whatsoever.

“Allowing a person to attempt to resolve technical issues without enforcing its policy for providing an integrated system for isolating and controlling hazards led to a dangerous situation.”

“It is another reminder of why safety should always be the number one priority in the mining industry. This means ensuring safety processes and procedures are not only in place, but are understood and followed.”

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