Investigation into mine fatality

An investigation following the death of a miner last week will focus on the emergency shaft ladders where he died.

An investigation following the death of a miner last week will focus on the emergency shaft ladders where he died.

The inquiry will also look into the state of the emergency radio channel at the OK decline at Norseman, and to whether it was working at the time.

According to The West, 59 year old miner Rene Orlando Ponce died when he fell 15 metres while replacing ladders in a new escapeway.

A section of the ladder was later found at the bottom of the shaft.

The ladders were being reworked following blasting in the shaft.

It went on to say that the emergency communications channel underground may not have been connected to a sufficiently trained operator at the surface.

This follows the implementation of an independent inquiry last month after a number of Parliamentary questions about the state of safety on Goldfields mines, such as the OK, Harlequin and Bullen mines, from WA shadow mines minister Jon Ford.

The inquiry is looking into objections leveled at the Department of Mines and Petroleum after claims of safety breaches and deficient complaint handling

AWU goldfields organiser Shaun Maddock has been vocal about safety issues at the mines.

It is understood that the inquiry was called after a number of claims of unsafe working conditions were put forward from the AWU, but had not come from the mines.

Moore confirmed that “the mines were chosen on the basis that they were the subject of complaints from Mr Maddock and are Goldfields mines at the centre of hundreds of parliamentary questions.”

“It was felt the best way to address the issue was to appoint an independent, impartial expert who could carry out an inquiry into the allegations,” Moore said.

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