Rio Tinto fined for worker death

A Rio Tinto subsidiary has been fined $70,000 over a worker who was crushed at Rio’s Brockman 2 mine in 2011.

The worker, Brent David Glew, was killed on August 16 while working on a front loader at Rio Tinto’s Brockman 2 mine in the Pilbara.

He was removing a tilt cylinder from a loader when he was fatally crushed by the 1400 kilogram piece of machinery whilst working underneath the suspended load.

He had previously worked as a HD fitter for Consolidated Minerals and as a diamond drill fitter for contractor Swick Mining Services.

DMP Resources Safety Acting Executive Director Andrew Chaplyn said Pilbara Iron Company (a subsidiary of Rio Tinto), had been charged under the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 for failing to provide a safe working environment.

In the application of a fine for Rio, magistrate Elizabeth Woods stated that not enough had been done to avoid the death, adding that none of the employees undertaking the task had the required tickets to carry out the job.

On top of this, the workers were also using an alternative method for the job.

"This is not something out of the ordinary … the hazards were foreseeable," Woods said.

"The accused must protect employees from risk.”

She went on to say the task was high-risk, and noted that two months prior to Glew’s accident a similar incident occurred which resulted in the injury of another employee at the site.

While Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Pilbara Iron had made operational policy changes, none of them had been approved or implemented by the time of Glew’s incident.

Woods acknowledged that the workers had an error of judgement, as they thought carrying out the task via the alternative method would save time.

"They were unaware it would create more hazards," she said.

Following the fine, and being ordered to pay $5000 in court costs, Rio Tinto’s Pilbara mines managing director Michael Gollschewski said that "Rio Tinto accepts that it failed to effectively manage the hazards associated with the task Brent was undertaking,” according to the ABC.

"Taking the learnings from this tragic incident, we have made several changes that will help to eliminate workplace deaths and introduced a number of safety improvement programs.

"We want everyone to go home safe and healthy every day.

"We regret that these changes were only identified and made following Brent's death.

"Personally, and on behalf of the company, I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to Brent's family."

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