Contractor fined for worker’s fatal crush incident

Rod Mitchell’s Transport and Exploration Services (RMTES) has been fined $110,000 for the death of a worker at the Woodie Woodie mine last year.

The worker, Philip George Kitching, 62, had been working to remove the belly plate of a bulldozer when it fell on him, causing fatal crush injuries.

An investigation by the Department of Mines and Petroleum found the dozer had modifications, damage, and missing parts that contributed to the incident.

The dozer’s belly plate was designed to be secured by a total of 13 bolts (six on the left-hand-side and seven on the right-hand-side), the DMP reported.

“When Mr Kitching started work on the dozer there were a total of five bolts securing the belly plate (three bolts on the left-hand-side and two bolts on the right-hand-side). Only one of those bolts was a standard original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specified bolt,” it stated.

“Two bolts were longer than the OEM specifications and another two were improvised, non-metric bolts that were too short. A hinge plate, which ordinarily would offer protection from accidental release of the belly plate, was damaged and inoperable.

“The underside of the dozer was heavily caked in mud and would have obscured the damage to the hinge, modifications and missing bolts from Mr Kitching while he worked on the dozer.”

RMTES pled guilty to the incident, an action which saw the fine reduced by 25 per cent.

Mines safety director and state mining engineer Andrew Chaplyn said the company had no record or report of the damage or modifications to the dozer.

“The company’s own policies required employees to record and report any damage to plant or equipment,” Chaplyn said.

“A lack of adequate supervision and failure to conduct a formal risk assessment for the job also contributed to this incident,” he said.

“This incident should not have occurred and provides a tragic reminder of what can happen when safety is not given the priority it deserves.”