Investigation into Cobar mine death points to unguarded and unmarked drainage borehole

Cobar_location of drainage boreholeThe man killed at the CSA Mine near Cobar in NSW on 11 June was retrieving a scaling bar from the water when his leg was sucked into an unguarded and unmarked drainage borehole, trapping the man underwater and drowning him, according to an Information Release issued by NSW Mine Safety this morning.

The man and a co-worker were using the scaling bar to remove a blockage from the borehole in a sump. The man left the work platform and entered the water in an attempt to find the scaling bar that had accidently fallen into the water.

After the incident, Investigators found a strainer nearby that they believe may have once been fitted to the borehole. It is not known how the strainer became separated from the borehole.

“The sump contained a considerable volume of water… It is evident from water markings on the backs (mine wall) that the sump was overflowing into the adjacent access roadways,” the Information Release reports.

“The workers were using an Integrated Tool Carrier (IT) with a work platform attached. It was driven into the sump to the approximate location of the borehole. Working from the basket, one of the workers attempted to clear the blockage using a scaling bar with a piece of rope attached. During the task the scaling bar was lost in the water.”

“One of the workers entered the water to try to find the scaling bar.”

The release goes on to say the worker disappeared below the water and the other worker activated the mine’s emergency procedures. Other workers responded and began search and rescue efforts.

“The worker was found below the surface of the water with his legs trapped in the borehole, being held by the pressure of the water. A number of rescuers recovered the worker, who was transported by ambulance to Cobar District Hospital. Efforts to resuscitate the worker were unsuccessful,” the Information Release said.

An investigation report into the incident is currently being prepared for the Secretary of NSW Trade & Investment.

NSW Mine Safety recommends that, “Mine operators should ensure that open holes and boreholes are appropriately guarded and hard barriers are in place to prevent similar incidents from occurring. All open holes should be appropriately signposted.

“Workers should be prohibited from entering water filled sumps and water bodies without using certified water craft and appropriate flotation protective equipment. “

The full Information Release can be read here: Information Release Worker dies in underground sump

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