Cloudbreak maintenance death prosecuted five years on

Five years on from the death of Paul Torre at the Cloudbreak iron ore mine, contractor BTP Equipment (formerly Ausdrill Mining Services) has been fined $195,000.

BTP pleaded guilty to the charge of causing death by failing to provide a safe working environment, under the Mines and Safety Inspection Act 1994.

The company was also ordered to pay $100,000 in court costs.

Paul Torre was working as a maintenance fitter at Cloudbreak in 2010, but on 24 December he was fatally injured while working on a Caterpillar 793C haul truck.

According to the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) investigation, night shift workers had removed the strut from the truck’s suspension cylinder unit, but failed to depressurise the hydraulics as per the OEM maintenance procedure.

It was also found that other maintenance which was not in accordance with the OEM-prescribed procedures had been performed, which had caused the end plug to be jammed into the strut in a fashion which left it unstable and unsecured.

On the morning of Christmas Eve Torre commenced work on the strut, and was fatally injurd when the end plug ejected from the strut and struck him.

“Our investigation indicated that Mr Torre was most likely unaware that the strut was still under high pressure while he was working on it,” DMP state mining engineer Andrew Chaplyn said.

Chaplyn said BTP had undertaken a number of procedural changes to prevent similar incidents, but that such measures were too late for Torre and his family, friends and co-workers.

“It is a tragic reminder of what can happen when safety isn’t given the priority it deserves.

 “Every worker should be entitled to return home safely to their family and friends at the end of a shift or swing.”

Chaplyn said the case had taken a long time to investigate and prosecute.

“This has been a long process and has undoubtedly impacted Mr Torre’s family, friends and co-workers,” he said.

“I hope that the court’s decision can bring some degree of closure.”

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