Minterra Pty Ltd (formerly known as Australian Contract Mining Pty Ltd) was recently fined $102,000 in the Perth Magistrate’s Court and ordered to pay $6,000 in costs after an employee was injured at its Starlight underground mine, in 2018.
At the time of the incident, the employee was in a work basket, which was attached to a machine called an integrated tool (IT) carrier. It is used to lift workers to various heights so they can conduct tasks.
On 13 March 2018, the worker fell at least 1.5 metres to the ground when the work basket detached from the IT attachment bracket.
In the lead up to the incident, the IT carrier was being manoeuvred, with the worker in the basket. However, on the fifth manoeuvre, the work basket detached and the worker fell with the basket.
Investigations revealed the work basket detached from the IT because the IT attachment bracket locking pins had not been engaged when the work basket was attached to the IT. Moreover, the worker did not check to ensure the locking pins of the attachment bracket were engaged.
The worker was airlifted to Perth for hospital treatment the next day.
The worker suffered multiple fractures in both feet, a ruptured Achilles tendon, a sprained ligament and needed surgical intervention for these injuries.
Mines Safety Director at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS), Andrew Chaplyn, said falls from height are one of the main hazards leading to fatalities and serious injuries in the mining industry.
“This miner suffered serious injuries to his feet,” Mr Chaplyn said.
“Mine operators must ensure workers understand and adhere to all safety instructions and have a full understanding of the mechanisms of the machinery they are using.”
The mine, roughly 140 kilometres north of Meekatharra, extends approximately 400 metres below the ground.