Contractor loses coal mine work after series of safety incidents

New Zealand coal miner Solid Energy has kicked Stratcon off its Ohai mine after a series of safety incidents.

In February a worker with Stratcon was filmed welding while standing on top of a forklift platform without a safety harness or any supervision, Fairfax NZ reports.

It came only months after another safety incident in which a truck ran off the road at the Ohai coal mine.

The mine itself has only been reopened since late last year, after discovering a new 50 000 tonne deposit, following its initial closure in June 2009.

Following the first incident the miner put together a new health and safety action plan.

However after this most recent incident the miner terminated its contract.

According to Solid's manager of open cut operations, Stephen Esposito, the welder used a telehandler to lift a platform into the air, after which he welded it to a container.

"[It was] without any safety harnesses in place or an operator present in the telehandler to control the machine and assist him, [it] was a potential high-risk health and safety incident," Esposito said.

The man was caught in the act by video cameras.

It is believed that all of the mine supervisors had left the site to go to the Nightcaps Club at the time of the incident.

A health and safety inspector with Solid alerted the NZ Labour Department inspector to the incident, stating that the contractor was "not following process of council consents".

The man went on to say that there were a number of serious failures caused by the contractor during the earlier truck incident as well, and this forced Solid Energy to reconsider its contract.

"Stracon have failed to effectively implement the actions identified in their action plan to improvement [sic] their H&S performance on site."

Stratcon have reportedly refused to comment.

Solid Energy was in the news earlier this year for its announcement that it was acquiring the Pike River coal mine, and calling for Australian mine safety standards on New Zealand sites, stating that the country's mines inspections should be carried out by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate, rather than New Zealand's own Labour Department.

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