Another crush injury at Fortescue mine site, two other serious incidents

A worker has been involved in a forklift accident at Fortescue Metals Group’s Solomon Hub in a week that also saw two other serious incidents occur on site.

According to two Australian Mining sources familiar with the operation, a forklift incident late last week saw a work injured, leading to the worker being airlifted off site for medical treatment.

Other accidents at the site last week saw one water truck roll, while three drillers were left in the blast exclusion zone as the blast was fired off, according to the unnamed sources close to the mine.

FMG have declined to comment on the accidents, stating that it refused to comment on “gossip”.

When the West Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum were contacted it confirmed it had been notified of the incidents, adding that investigations are underway.

“If the department identifies any shortcomings in regard to any of the matters above, appropriate enforcement action will be taken,” it said.

“Any incident is of concern and mine operators across WA’s resource sector should always be looking to maintain and improve safety outcomes.”

FMG’s safety record has been in the spotlight of late following a spate of serious accidents at its mine sites over the last six months.

In August last year, 26-year-old electrician Kurt Williams was killed whilst carrying out maintenance work at Christmas Creek’s processing facility.

This resulted in Fortescue using its step-in options to take management and control of the facility away from the contractor, eventually resulting in FMG buying the ore processing facility at Christmas Creek.

In October an FMG contractor was airlifted from the same mine suffering serious leg and pelvis injuries after two haul trucks collided. The man’s left leg has since been amputated.

In late December the sector was shocked with another death at the mine and reacted by asking some serious questions about the safety culture at the company.

Workers at the site have been in contact with Australian Mining and laid some serious allegation against FMG’s safety culture.

According to one Australian Mining source a serious incident occurred at FMG's Cloudbreak operation a few months ago which narrowly avoided becoming a double fatality.

The source told Australian Mining that "months ago two operators from the CloudBreak operations were placed in harm's way during a fire at the site".

"Management placed the operators in the path of the fire with no fire fighting skills, in the dark, on contour terrain to cut a fire break. They became trapped by the fastest moving front and surrounded by fire.

"The fire engulfed both rubber tyred machines it was only the quick thinking of both operators to find areas with low scrub that luckily prevented two more fatalities.

"Other workers listening to the radio communication during the ordeal were traumatised. 

"Both operators believed that was the end for them.

"This is only one of many examples of a FMG management boys club covering up short cuts taken from poor planning and severe budget cuts to department's like emergency services under the banner of frugality," they stated.

Speaking to The West Australian, DMP director general Richard Sellers stated that there have been "discussions regarding smaller contractors and that FMG [is] committed to act should they not meet safety expectations".

Fortescue has previously said it is working towards addressing the cultural issues on site following a DMP directive to tighten its safety procedures across all its operations.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.