Coal and Allied escapes prosecution over 2014 incident

Coal and Allied escapes prosecution over 2014 incident

Coal and Allied has avoided prosecution over a 2014 incident at a Hunter Valley mine that left a man severely injured.
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The NSW Department of Planning announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to an“enforceable undertaking” with the mine operator, which would cost the company $677,000, in response to an alleged breachof the Workplace Health and Safety Act.

The legally-binding agreement, proposed by Coal and Allied, comes after a worker at the Mt Thorley Warkworth mine fell from a ladder while cleaning the window of a grader on October 4.

The department’s official decision to accept Coal and Allied’s alternative to prosecution, which was published on Tuesday, said the man fell from a height of 1.5 metres after an opening door caused the ladder to move –which left the man with “very serious injuries”.

The department’s regulator began prosecution against Coal and Allied’s parent company Rio Tinto, alleging a workplace health and safety breach that carried a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

But instead, Coal and Allied will undertake a range of actions –on top of the estimated $500,000 the company has already spent addressing the alleged breach.

“This case serves as a timely reminder to mining operators of their obligations under theWork Health and Safety Act,” NSW Resources Regulator chief compliance officer AnthonyKeon said.

“The undertaking by Coal and Allied is considered significant, and rightfully so, and has thereal potential to create considerable, and broad, industry reach by focusing on the nextgeneration of workers in the mining and other high-risk industries.”

A key project that’s part of the enforceable action is aneducational program aimed at school leavers, involving a short film and a smart phone application.

It will be trialled at two Hunter schools.

In a statement on Tuesday, the department said it believed the action “provided for significantly better outcomes than prosecution alone would achieve”.

Rio Tinto sold Coal and Allied to Yancoal earlier this year.

A Yancoal spokesman said the project was a chance to influence the thinking and behaviour of young people, with regard to safety, before they enter the workplace.

“The enforceable undertaking has been developed in the best interests of instituting an education program to help prevent injuries among young people when they enter the workforce,” he said.

“The more safety information and experiences we can provide prior to entering into a heavy industry such as mining, the more vigilant they can be.

“Ultimately any education program must be supported by a workplace culture committed to zero harm.”

TheConstruction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union hasbeen contacted for comment.