Fortescue Metals’ safety record under the spotlight

A second serious accident in three months at Fortescue Metals Group’s Christmas Creek mine has sparked concern within the mining industry.

Australian Mining’s readers have been offering up their opinions on the state of operations after news broke an FMG contractor was airlifted from the Western Australian mine suffering serious leg and pelvis injuries after two haul trucks collided before 1 am on Tuesday morning.

The 42-year-old man was trapped in the truck’s cabin for more than five hours before he was flown to Royal Perth Hospital, where he remains in a serious condition.

A source close to the situation told Australian Mining that the injured man is in danger of losing his leg as a result of the accident.

One Australian Mining reader who claims he has worked on Christmas Creek in the past said Christmas Creek is a “dangerous” operation.

Another reader labelled Christmas Creek as a “cowboy run operation” accusing the company of regularly covering up near misses and incidents.

A source close to Australian Mining said he left his job at Christmas Creek because of safety concerns.

This week’s incident has once again pushed FMG into the headlines.

In August, 26-year-old electrician Kurt Williams was killed whilst carrying out maintenance work at Christmas Creek’s processing facility.

In 2011 Bevan Coutts another FMG contractor lost both his legs when a hydraulic arm failed whilst he was working at FMG’s iron ore facility at Port Hedland.

Two years on, Coutts’ compensation case is still yet to be finalised.

Coutts said his accident has left him suffering emotional and mental distress.

“I was a bloke just trying to earn a good dollar,” he said.

“It’s now so hard to get motivated.

“I don’t do a lot of things, it’s hard.”

Australian Mining contacted FMG with our readers’ comments, asking the following questions:

  • This is the second serious incident in three months at Christmas Creek, what is FMG doing to mitigate the risks and improve safety?
  • What is FMG’s response to comments that Christmas Creek is allegedly a “dangerous” mine that is run by “cowboys”?
  • What is FMG’s response to comments that there is a cultural problem in regards to safety at the site?
  • What is FMG’s response to comments that allegedly “near misses and incidents are routinely covered up”?
  • What differentiates Christmas Creek, where these incidents have occurred, to FMG’s other mines which appear to have a better safety record?

 

This was FMG’s response:

“Fortescue Metals Group advises an employee of Macmahon Holdings was seriously injured at the Christmas Creek mine site overnight in a heavy vehicle incident. He was attended to onsite by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and transported to Perth this morning. Fortescue’s priorities are to ensure the best care for the worker and support for his family and colleagues. A full investigation into the incident will be conducted to identify the cause.”   

MacMahon Holdings, the company the injured man works for, was also contacted for comment but are yet to respond at the time of publication.

 

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