Silver Lake Resources Ltd has been fined $58,000 in the Perth Magistrates Court following an incident in 2014 which seriously injured a worker at their Murchison Gold Operation, located approximately 25 kilometres south-east of the town of Cue.
According to the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS), a boilermaker working at Silver Lake’s Tuckabianna Processing Plant was conducting maintenance on a piece of plant called a jaw crusher, which is used to crush mined ore for further processing when the incident occurred. As part of regular maintenance, the jaw crusher’s liners are periodically replaced.
It was while trying to fit the liners that one of them fell and injured the boilermaker, which resulted in multiple fractures. The liners weighed between 1.8 and 2.3 tonnes.
An investigation by the DMIRS found that the workers were having difficulty fitting the liner into position when a piece of timber was used as a wedge to hold the liner in what they thought was the correct position.
While the liner had not yet been bolted in, the boilermaker believed it was sufficiently embedded in its inclined position and could not fall forward.
It was after the boilermaker removed the timber wedge in order to start positioning the next jaw liner that the other liner fell on him.
DMIRS Mines Safety Director Andrew Chaplyn commented that the company was responsible for directing and controlling how the work was carried out and ensuring workers were not exposed to the uncontrolled movement of the liner.
“This could have been done by Silver Lake providing the workers with a means of making sure that the jaw liner did not move in an uncontrolled manner while they were working on it,” he explained.
Instead, Mr Chaplyn suggested combining a work platform with lifting cams or lifting lugs which had been designed, positioned and welded to the liners properly.
“This was an incident that had the potential to be fatal,” he said.