RESOURCES giant BHP Billiton and subcontractor HWE Newman Services have been fined more than $200,000 for a fatal incident in August 2008.
Mobile maintenance supervisor Paul Sparkes, 29, was killed while working at BHP’s Yandi iron ore mine, (then operated by HWE) near Newman in the Pilbara.
Mr Sparkes was hit in the arm by a tyre-handling device, which had broken off the machine body after the tyre of a heavy earth mover overinflated.
Five years after the incident, the Perth Magistrates Court found BHP and HWE guilty of failing to provide sufficient training for Mr Sparkes’ position, and for failing to provide the necessary equipment for safe tyre assembly.
BHP was fined $102,000 and HWE $136,000. Both companies will share the $125,000 court costs.
During the October trial, Magistrate Steven Malley said that while there was no evidence of a blatant disregard fo safety, there was “a systems failure with dire consequences”.
A BHP spokesperson described the accident as “tragic”.
“[BHP and HWE] did not provide a working environment free from hazards, so far as practicable, as required under the Mines Safety and Inspection Act,” the spokesperson said.
“Any fatality is one fatality too many. We remain committed to continually improving our safety performance across our business with the objective of ensuring that our people return home safely at the end of every day.”
WA Mines and Petroleum safety executive director Simon Ridge said the outcome of the trial was favourable, and the department would continue to push the importance of occupational health and safety across WA mine sites.
“While mining activities can pose risk, mining workers should not be placed in harm’s way. It is completely unacceptable,” Mr Ridge said.
“The majority of mining companies are operating to high safety standards right now – but there are always some occasions where more needs to be done, and this was certainly a tragic event back in 2008.
“It is up to all of us – companies, government and workers – to work together to achieve ‘zero harm’.”