Top five mining social media ‘misuses’

Like all workers, miners are on social media and like to document what happens at their work place, but sometimes this lands the workers in hot water.

We’ve gathered the top five examples from the last five years where miners got on social media trends, or posted pics from their work on social media, which landed them with the sack.

5. Haul truck fires followed by social media discipline

When something goes wrong on site, workers love to document it. However, posting it up on Facebook almost immediately after the incident, while helps to stop the accident from being ignored, can land workers in trouble.

A haul truck fire at the Collie coal mine resulted in a disciplinary investigation of the social media use of employees who photographed the incident.

The female driver escaped unharmed from her haul truck after it caught fire, and was photographed by an employee from outside the pit.

Two photographs of the fire were posted on the Mining Mayhem Facebook page, and it is understood that seven employees faced disciplinary action from their employer, Premier Coal, relating to social media use.


4. Santos plant workers sacked for planking on smokestacks

These workers were fired for an incident which is easily the most dangerous of  all those in the list.

Two South Australian resource workers were fired for planking on top of a plant’s smokestacks, 60 metres off the ground.

The discovery of photographs of the stunt at Santos in Whyalla, which were posted on Facebook,  was deemed extremely dangerous by the company and the two were sacked immediately.

Two other employees were also stood down for failing to intervene.


3. Mine workers sacked for 100 litre ice bucket challenge

No good deed goes unpunished. Three workers who got on to the icebucket challenge took it a step further by using industrial equipment to create a 100 litre icebucket challenge.

Three workers have been sacked from BHP Billiton’s Mt Whaleback mine in Western Australia used  two Hiab cranes to lift a wheelie bin carrying 100 litres of water, and then pour it over a worker’s head.

BHP Billiton confirmed three workers had been let go following a “serious breach of our safety regulations”.

"The safety of our employees always comes first,” the company said in a statement.

It is understood an electrician, an acting supervisor and a fitter were sacked over the stunt while a fourth worker was cautioned.


2. Social media lands Komatsu workers in hot water

Social media never takes kindly to animal abuse, even when it is the culling of feral animals. Komatsu stood down two workers after discovering photos of the men at the Welshpool workshop holding cats.

The photographs, which were found on Facebook, show workers holding up what appear to be dead cats.

The caption on one of the photos reads: “A cat we caught on our recent hunt around Komatsu grounds”.

Another image shows a man who is not affiliated with Komatsu holding two black cats by the tails, with a caption that reads: “taking care of the ferals”.

A comment on the photos suggests one of the cats was disposed of in a recycling bin.

Komatsu general manager for people and strategy Colin Shaw said that two Komatsu employees involved, including the worker who took the pictures, were stood down.


1. Sacked Harlem Shake miners split social media

This incident was the most divisive across mining’s social media, after 15 workers were sacked for carrying out the Harlem Shake dance craze underground.

The eight dancers, a worker who recorded the stunt, as well as several onlookers were fired after the video they posted on YouTube went viral. 

A dismissal letter sent to the workers also stated the men were banned for life from working at any of Barminco’s projects.

A Facebook page calling for reinstatement of the “sacked WA Harlem Shake Miners” attracted close hundreds of ‘likes’.

The incident has also sparked furious debate on the Australian Mining’s Facebook page.

Many supported the move to fire the workers.

“I'm sorry but if you breach safety guidelines in an underground mine or any mine for that matter expect to be punished and harshly for it,” Corinda McNaughton said.

“There's a time and place for everything, doing a dance in an underground mine while on-duty is probably not one of them,” Dan Crawford added.

Others thought the move to sack the workers was heavy-handed.

“Sad to see mining company with no sense of humour just a whole lot of money,” Amy Thomson said.

“That’s just mean they should have just got a warning,” Sara Wilson thought.

An unnamed worker who participated in the stunt said the group did not endanger safety because they abided by requirements for helmets, portable oxygen and other measures.

The sacked worker said the men wore helmets, cap lamps, glasses and rescue devices during the dance to ensure they met workplace safety rules.

He also added that long-sleeved shirts were only removed to prevent the Barminco brand being seen.

Barminco said they saw the stunt as a safety issue and a breach of its “core values of safety, integrity and excellence”.



Sarcasm is apparently extremely unappreciated in the mining industry.

A BHP geological engineer who created a spoof planking safety poster was sacked for his efforts.

The miner was one of the seven who were dismissed, with contractor Conneq confirming that it had sacked six staff.

The poster itself, which has a BHP Billiton letter head, promotes ‘safe planking’ on site.

It explained ‘Safe Planking Procedures’ or SPPs, which include “a maximum planking height of 60cm; site compliant PPE; mandatory presence of a competent spotter; supervisor approval; and performing a DPI for every planking activity.

Maybe the workers at Whyalla should have read it?

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