FMG subsidiary fined for severe worker injury

Fortescue Metals subsidiary The Pilbara Infrastructure (TPI) has been fined over an incident which saw the double amputation of a worker’s legs.

The incident occurred at the FMG-owned Port Hedland iron ore facility on July 8 2011, when contractor Bevan Coutts was assisting in the removal of a gearbox from a train unloader indexer and was caught between the 14 tonne indexer arm and a steel structure.

One of Coutts’ legs was immediately severed in the accident, and the other badly crushed.

Coutts was transferred to Royal Perth Hospital, where his remaining leg was “deemed unsalvageable and amputated below the knee,” according to the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum.

Charges were brought against The Pilbara Infrastructure and mining service contractor Inline Engineering Services under section 12 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act of Western Australia and section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Now TPI has been fined $50,000 over the incident.

The Department of Mines and Petroleum Mines safety director and state mining engineer, Andrew Chaplyn, said investigations found the combination of the design of the indexer and the fact it had not been mechanically isolated contributed to the incident.

“The indexer had been electrically isolated during work prior to the shutdown, but mechanical isolation had not been done,” Chaplyn said.

“The risk of uncontrolled movement of the indexer had not been factored into the Job Hazard Assessment (JHA) and the work crew conducting maintenance presumed the indexer had been electrically and mechanically isolated.”

The indexer arm was positioned on an angle which created a risk of uncontrolled movement.

“The safety of members of the Inline work crew was seriously jeopardised. The physical and psychological impact of this incident on the work crew and their families, particularly Mr Coutts, provide a tragic reminder of the importance of safety in our mining industry,” Chaplyn said.


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