Contractor charged over death at FMG’s Christmas Creek mine

The employer of a worker killed at Fortescue Metals Group’s operation in August last year has been charged for failing to provide a safe working environment.

Electrician Kurt Williams, 24, died on August 14 while working for Crushing Services International (CSI) at the Christmas Creek mine.

Williams was greasing a motor when he was fatally crushed by a ladder attached to a tripper unit at the top of the ore processing facility.

Questions surrounding work practices at the mine site were immediately raised following Williams’ death after it was revealed he was working alone on night shift.

FMG took control over the processing facility at Christmas Creek a month after the accident stating it wanted to “ensure safe and hazard free operation" at the site.

The Department of Mines and Petroleum said CSI had been charged under the Mines and Safety Inspection Act for failing to provide a safe working environment.

Electrical Trades Union WA secretary Les McLaughlan said the union had previously flagged concerns about the kind of work Williams was undertaking, and in more general terms, concerns around CSI’s safety practices, stuff.co.nz reports.

"This man's death is a tragedy and we believe it may have been prevented if CSI had listened to our concerns about its safety practices," he said last year.

Questions were also raised in regards to FMG’s safety culture after a spate of accidents followed closely after Williams’ death, including a second fatality in December.

Allen Zuvela was killed and another seriously injured at the Christmas Creek surface mining workshop following a crush incident.

A contractor had to have his leg amputated in October following a haul truck accident at the same site.

In January, WA DMP head mining engineer Simon Ridge said there were definitely "shortcomings in the cultural aspects" of safety, with DMP director general Richard Sellers explaining that there have been "discussions regarding smaller contractors and that FMG was 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.

FMG CEO Nev Power has spoken out about safety at the company’s mine sites in a video posted to Youtube earlier this year.

“I would like to make it absolutely clear that no one on a Fortescue site is ever expected to do anything that compromises safety,” Power said.

“Our culture empowers everyone to take whatever action is required to ensure safe operation, including stopping production when necessary.”

A full report into Williams’ death is yet to be released by the DMP.

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