Gold miner fined after workers injured driving underground

Lack of training and risk assessment contributed to incident.
Date: Monday, 15 March 2021

Australia’s second largest gold producer Northern Star Resources Ltd was fined a total of $150,000 in the Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court on 8 March 2021, after two workers were injured in a vehicle collision underground.

The incident occurred at Northern Star’s Millennium mine in Kalgoorlie in December 2017.

One of the workers lost control of a light truck while travelling downhill and steered into the mine wall to slow the vehicle. The worker and passenger suffered injuries from the collision.

At the time of the incident, the truck displayed incorrect load capacity signage and was carrying a load that exceeded the safe operating maximum by more than 1.9 tonnes.

The worker driving the truck had not completed the required training and assessment to operate the vehicle.

Andrew Chaplyn, Director Mines Safety at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety said the incident demonstrates why it is vital for employers to provide their employees with the instruction, training and supervision they need to work in a safe manner.

“It’s up to mining operators to ensure workers have completed the required training and assessment for specific vehicles and sites,” he said.

“The incident also highlights the need for mining operators to conduct comprehensive risk assessments and ensure they have implemented the appropriate controls.”

Mr Chaplyn said all equipment and vehicles must display signage that shows the correct safe carrying weight.

“Site procedures should include up-skilling operators in calculating the safe working load limit if necessary.”