Mine site death leads to Queensland coal mine safety alert

Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines have issued a safety alert after electrician Paul McGuire died at Anglo American’s Grasstree coal mine last week.

According to the department, McGuire, 34, appears to have been overcome by an irrespirable atmosphere after he entered a part of the mine that was being inertised.

To do so, it says McGuire opened a hatch that had been closed, but that was not clearly marked as inaccessible.

McGuire was found collapsed and unresponsive by his colleagues before emergency personnel responded and attempted to revive him.

The department said the tragedy and a number of other incidents in recent times have identified controls being used to deal with access to hazardous areas are inadequate.

Every coal mine has been advised to conduct an audit of all hazardous areas and ensure the areas are secured to prevent access and are clearly marked.

It also said the areas should be depicted on mine plans and other relevant documents and that this information should be provided to any person working near the areas.

Opposition spokesman Jo-Ann Miller said investigations need to centre around what instructions were given to McGuire, ABC reported.

"There has to be basically a very big analysis on why the worker was in a part of the mine that was clearly unsafe," Miller said.

"I have been speaking to miners in Blackwater actually – they're concerned about it – the whole mining community across central Queensland are worried."

CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said while Grasstree is one of the gassiest mines in the country, no concerns had been raised prior to the accident.

He said the union’s investigation will focus on why the experienced miner was in a restricted area.

"The area of the mine where it was, what instructions were given to go and work in there? What procedures were in place? And all that other type of stuff that you work through in an investigation to get to the conclusion of it," Smyth said.

"The big thing is to have an open mind – don't make any assumptions, don't point the finger.

"Let the evidence lead you to an outcome."

Workers at Grasstree have come together to help Mcguire’s wife Melissa and two young daughters, agreeing to each donate a day worth of pay to the family.

Investigations into the tragedy are continuing.

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