Compliant platform could have stopped Mt Lyell deaths: court told

The purchase of a compliant temporary shaft platform could have prevented the deaths of the two workers at the Mt Lyell Copper mine in 2013, a court heard yesterday.

The men died after a linkage assembly fell onto the temporary wooden platform they were working on and broke the structure, causing them to fall around 20m down the mine shaft. Craig Gleeson, 45, died on the scene, while Alistair Lucas was found alive but later suffered a cardiac arrest and died on the way to hospital.

The mine, operated by Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT), was closed for 10 days following their deaths and during that time a new $1787 platform was built and delivered, a job hazard analysis system was established, and the company was given the green light to recommence operations, The Mercury reports.

CMT pleaded guilty for failing to maintain a safe workplace in August this year.

The case continued in the Burnie court yesterday where Magistrate Tamara Jago listened to facts and took submissions.

Prosecutor Sam Thompson said the fault remained “solely with the company” and that a job safety analysis conducted before the men went underground would have identified the need for a safe system could have been built for less than $2000.

“The company instead relied on workers passing information up the chain of command. The company had accepted use of the temporary platform in the past simply because there had been no incidents in the past,” he said.

Victim impact statements from family members of the deceased were presented but not read out in court.

CMT is planning to reopen the mine, however the decision is still delayed due to unstable market conditions.

Thompson went on to say that if it reopens, the company needs to implement a range of safety procedures.

The Magistrate is due to deliver her sentence on December 13.

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