Fortescue contractor sees fine over workshop death

A maintenance contractor has been fined $20,000 for the death of Allen Zuvela at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek mine in 2013.

Zuvela was killed and another worker – Ben Reid – seriously injured whilst installing a cabin on a surface miner when the rigging arrangement failed , causing the cab to fall and crush Zuvela and injure Reid.

“The pair were working underneath the cab of a Vermeer surface miner when the rigging arrangement between the cab and overhead crane failed due to overloading,” WA DMP safety director and state mining engineer Andrew Chaplyn said.

“Because of their position, neither Zuvela nor Reid could see the display for the overhead crane load cell, which indicated the weight the crane was lifting.”

The DMP went on state that their actions flew in the face of the company’s policy, training, and instruction, which prohibited employees from working underneath suspended loads.

“Zuvela and Reid worked in the direct line of fire,” the DMP said.

“While a JHA for the job had been prepared by the dayshift crew it was not included in the handover to the nightshift crew,” Chaplyn said.

“The handover sheet did not document any of the potential hazards associated with the job and did not mention there had been a JHA previously prepared.

“The JHA would have identified the potentially fatal hazards associated with the work and enabled those hazards to be addressed and the work to be carried out safely.”

The contractor, Mesa West, has been ordered to pay $20,000 in fines over the incident.

“Processes and procedures are there for a reason – because there are life-threatening risks when working on mining operations, however risks should not lead to harm,” Chaplyn said.

This fine comes more than a year after fellow Fortescue contractor Crushing Services International was fined $115,000 over the death of electrician Kurt Williams in 2014.