Glencore Xstrata Plc and Sumitomo Corporation have signed an agreement to acquire Rio Tinto’s 50.1% interest in the Clermont thermal coal mine.
Glencore Xstrata Plc and Sumitomo Corporation have signed an agreement to acquire Rio Tinto’s 50.1% interest in the Clermont thermal coal mine. Peter Holt

Mine workers lives at risk

JUST days after the first mining fatality this year, an industry safety inspector has warned that secrecy, suspicion and inexperienced site supervisors are putting the lives of mine workers at risk.

On Monday - 24 hours before a young man perished while working in a Moranbah quarry - the Queensland Government released its latest mine safety report covering February.

Of the 183 "serious and high potential" cases reported - the equivalent of six a day - 28 involved vehicles losing control, 25 were vehicles hitting each other, and 38 involved either explosives or the risk of electrocution.

In April APN revealed more than 1000 of these incidents were reported from August 2011 to January 2012.

CFMEU mine safety inspector Greg Dalliston said the newest figures were not about scaring workers or their families, but ensuring every incident was investigated.

He said the most dangerous risk for mine workers was the lack of competent bosses keeping an eye on operations.

"Inexperienced management is at the top of the list," Mr Dalliston said.

"I'm talking about the supervisors in place at mostly open-cut mines.

"They are high-turnover positions and some of them will push production to just about let anything happen.

"They do not know what's going to happen and should not be there."

Mr Dalliston said contractors especially were often nervous about reporting incidents to government inspectors because they felt it could put their employment at risk.

The safety report outlined in detail the risks faced by those in Queensland's mining operations.

One worker took a wrong turn while driving around the mine, accidentally entering a field of buried explosives or "shots".

In another incident, a worn-out fuel line caused a fire in the engine of a gigantic CAT D10 dozer - posing not just the danger of burns but also the risk of catastrophic explosion.

A spokesman for Department of Mines said site owners were legally bound to report all incidents, even those without injury, to ensure better safety in the industry.



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