Worker suffers serious burns at BHP’s Mt Arthur mine

The tyre handler at the refuelling bay

A worker has sustained serious burns after diesel ignited while he was refuelling a tyre handler at BHP’s Mt Arthur coal mine in New South Wales.

The incident happened at 9.38am on August 10, when the worker, aged 29, was refuelling the tyre handler at the site’s heavy vehicle refuelling bay.

The worker had been employed by a contractor who provides tyre management services to the mine.

According to the Resources Regulator, the worker had driven the tyre handler to the refuelling bay and attached a fuel splash filler nozzle adaptor to the 800 lt/m line via a Banlaw quick connect fuel nozzle.

When attached, the adaptor made a free-flowing nozzle that enabled the plant to be refuelled without a quick connect coupling. The tyre handler’s fuel tank did not have a quick connect fitting.

Once connected, the worker rested the nozzle in the handler’s fuel tank and went to a nearby switchboard to activate the fuel pump.

When the pump was activated, the nozzle ejected from the fuel tank under pressure, spraying fuel over the tyre handler.

The worker then grabbed the fuel nozzle in an attempt to control it, when the fuel ignited, setting himself, the tyre handler and the surrounding area on fire.

He sustained serious burns to his arm, torso and face.

Other workers rushed to the scene and conducted first aid. Mine paramedics and NSW Ambulance paramedics also treated the worker on site, before he was flown to the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney.

The fire was extinguished and the tyre handler and fuel bay sustained significant damage.

An examination of the fuel splash filler nozzle found it was not suitable for the refuelling task as it “enabled pressurised fuel to flow out in an uncontrolled manner”.

NSW police and Resources Regulator inspectors also attended the scene.

The Regulator has commenced an investigation into the incident, with cooperation from the mine and the contractor.

An investigation report will be prepared for the Department of Planning and Environment.