THE Industrial Court of NSW has convicted a coal mining company and fined it $175,000, highlighting the importance of establishing safe work procedures for non-routine tasks and when equipment fails.
Helensburgh Coal pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000. This followed a workplace accident at the mining company’s metropolitan colliery at Helensburgh on 28 May 2004, when a chain connection snapped during attempts to rejoin a jammed conveyor chain belt.
An employee was struck on the front of his safety helmet by part of the chain, resulting in serious head injuries and the partial loss of sight in his right eye.
The conviction was softened as the mining company pleaded guilty and showed contrition by helping the injured employee extensively and implementing safety precautions after the incident.