A Tasmanian coroner’s report has stated the death of a miner ten years ago was the fault of his employers and due to the inaction of safety authorities.
Coal miner Adrian Hayes was killed at the Fingal mine in north east Tasmania in 2000 while he was disconnecting air and water hoses on a continuous miner when he was struck by a piece of falling mud stone which caused fatal head injuries.
The current coroner, Rod Chandler, reopened Hayes case last year
Releasing the findings on Wednesday, Chandler said that this death could have been avoided, and that similar incidents of rock falls occurred in the weeks leading up to Hayes death, but were not effectively investigated by mine owner Cornwall Coal.
In the period between 24 August and 4 October 2000, six miners were reportedly injured by rockfalls.
Hayes died on 30 October.
"Had a comprehensive risk assessment been undertaken prior to this date it is likely, in my view, that the area in which Hayes was killed would have been identified as an area of high risk,” the coroner’s report stated.
None of the prior injuries were investigated by Cornwall Coal.
It went on to say that “management at Cornwall Coal should have appreciated … that the recent history of unexplained roof falls in the area … made it unsafe for work to continue and compelled the cessation of mining and the withdrawal of the work crew.”
On top of this, the report went on to condemn Workplace Safety Tasmania (WST), saying “by its inaction WST permitted Cornwall Coal’s mining operations to proceed unchecked and without review when its risk management practices were deficient.”
Chandler has called for the creation of workplace safety regulations specific to mining.