Christmas Creek mine put on notice over fatality

WA’s Department of Mines and Petroleum today issued special directions ensuring that the Fortescue Metals Group tightens safety procedures following yesterday’s fatal incident at the Christmas Creek Mine.

State mining engineer Simon Ridge met with the company CEO this morning to issue the direction under section 21.1 (O) of the Mine Safety Act 1994.

The direction requires that greater direct supervision and safety checks are provided across all FMG mine sites. It requires that all isolation and lock out/tag out procedures are verified by a supervisor and where applicable an Elected Health and Safety Representative.

Mr. Ridge said a program of intense auditing planned to commence in February 2014 to identify gaps in safety programs would also start as soon as possible.

“Yesterday’s incident, which resulted in the death of a 33 year-old male, was the second fatal incident at the Christmas Creek site in the four months,” he said.

“A team of DMP inspectors have started an investigation at the site today. The inspectorate has so far determined that a number of recent incidents at FMG mine sites appear to have involved an ineffectual isolation and lock out/tag out process. This may or may not be a contributory factor in this most recent incident.”

Mr. Ridge said the directions would remain in place until FMG was able to provide suitable reassurance that sufficient controls of any alternative nature are in place to ensure the effectiveness of isolation and lock out/tag out procedures.

He said this was the third fatality in WA’s mining sector since the State experienced a fatality free year during 2012. The previous two incidents were:

  • Stephen Hampton fatally injured on 3 December 2013, while working with a tailings pipe at the Telfer Gold Mine tailings storage facility.
  • Kurt Williams who was caught and crushed by a tripper conveyor at the FMG Christmas Creek Iron Ore Mine on 14 August 2013.
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