Sunday, December 5, 2021
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Mine death in Central Queensland tragic ‘reminder of complacency’

Photo of the head of brass miner memorial statue
Mine death in Central Queensland tragic ‘reminder of complacency’

Another miner has gone to work and never comes home in the middle of a safety reset of Queensland’s mining.

The 60-year-old man who died in an underground coal mine collapse overnight was the ninth person killed in a Queensland mining incident since July 2018.

A mine safety expert said the simple answer to the complex problem was to increase diligence and reduce complacency.

The Queensland Mining Association declared a “security crisis” when Jack Gerdes was crushed to death at the Baralaba North coal mine in July 2019.

He was the sixth person to die in 12 months, making the year between July 2018 and July 2019 the worst for mine deaths since 1997.

Four months later, Brad Duxbury was killed by a coal fall at the Carborough Downs underground mine.

Two months later, in January 2020, Goondiwindi man Donald Rabbitt died after being trapped under heavy machinery at the Coronado Curragh mine.

Five people were seriously injured after an explosion at the Grosvenor coal mine in May 2020.(

ABC News: Jemima Burt

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In May 2020, five miners were seriously injured in an explosion at the Grosvenor mine near Moranbah.

The Coal Mining Board of Inquiry published a report on the cause of the explosion in June 2021, which stated that the workers were “exposed to unacceptable risk”.

43 security will be reset this year

Resource Secretary Scott Stewart told the State Department today that “any loss of human life in our mining sites is unacceptable.”

“I would like to express my sincere condolences … to the family, to the friends and to the colleagues to the man who has passed away and I also hope for a complete and speedy recovery to the man who has been injured,” he said. .

Just last week, Stewart visited a mine near Cloncurry to highlight the state government’s reset of mine safety.

He said 43 on-site resets had been completed so far this year.

Dealing with complacency

David Cliff, professor of occupational health and safety at the University of Queensland, said handling health and safety in the industry was an ongoing problem.

“One of the concerns is complacency … [thinking] that things are good and events are very rare and they can not happen to us.

“We have not got it fixed completely.”

The silhouette of an industrial building at dusk with the lights on.
The entrance to Gregory Crinum opened mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.(

ABC News: Rachel McGhee

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Professor Cliff said the complexity of the industry meant that technology-based risks and natural risks existed.

“Fire, explosions or landslides like today and the incident at Grosvenor are recurring and we do not really understand why,” he said.

“I see no results to tell us how we prevent past problems and similar things from occurring.

“When you have complex systems, the likelihood that something will not work for sure increases – unexpected consequences of expected actions as they were.”

Is enough being done?

Professor Cliff was unsure whether “the right things” were being done to improve security.

“Things are much better than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago, but they will not get better if we do not remain diligent,” he said.

“The danger is that people will say, ‘Look, we did this, we’re moving forward – we’ve talked to our workforce, we’ve done our audits, we’ve done our reviews, we had the experts come in and check out our systems. , it’s ok, we can move on now.

“The ongoing challenge is to maintain that level of awareness and concern that things may go wrong.

He said solving the problem would require a holistic approach.

“Everyone – not just the workers, but the people who organize, monitor, manage, provide resources, funding, the level of education of workers – [has to] take responsibility for these activities to ensure that they are carried out properly and adequately, “said Professor Stewart.

Stock photo of the devastation at the Mount Mulligan mine after the 1921 explosion that killed 75 men.
Stock photo of the devastation at the Mount Mulligan mine after the 1921 explosion that killed 75 men.(

Delivered: Queensland State Library

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‘You must return home’

This Sunday, September 19th, is Miners Memorial Day.

It marks the anniversary of Queensland’s worst mining disaster, in which 75 miners died in a coal mine at Mount Mulligan in 1921.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Queensland Mining and Energy Division President Steve Smyth called on the community to show their support.

He said each death had “a ripple effect”.

“In my previous roles in industry safety, I have unfortunately been involved in many deaths and many serious accidents to investigate, and in this role I do too,” he said.

“It’s never easy.

“I can not for a moment put myself in the shoes of the family of the lost miner and obviously the injured miner.

“[They] simply they went to work last night and one gentleman has not returned and another is seriously injured. “

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