Jan 14, 2020

Curragh death probe after mine worker crushed

Curragh death probe after mine worker crushed

Investigations are continuing after 33-year-old Thiess employee Donald Rabbitt was killed at the Curragh coal mine, north of Blackwater, on Sunday.

 Mine owner Coronado Global said operations at Curragh had been suspended until investigators permited them to resume.

Mr Rabbitt was believed to have been changing a tyre when he was trapped under a piece of machinery at the site.

The tragedy at Curragh follows five deaths at Queensland coal mines last year, fueling demands from key mining union the CFMEU that the State Government act now to implement industrial manslaughter laws to cover mining.

At the mine site yesterday, CFMEU Industry Safety and Health Representative (ISHR) Stephen Watts described attending the scene of the fatality as a terrible and heartbreaking way to start the new year.

“Everyone is feeling shocked and upset about what has occurred,” he said.

“We have had our first look at the site of the fatality. In simple terms, the worker has been crushed by a massive piece of equipment. The focus of our investigation will be to look at what has gone wrong to lead to this terrible outcome.”

Father Robin Rabbitt, posting on Facebook, said that he could not have wished for a better son and mate.

“I hope to wake from this horrible dream to see you standing there. Love you so much,” he wrote.

Coronado said workers were being progressively briefed on the incident as they arrived on site to commence their shifts.

“Coronado and Thiess extend their deepest sympathies to the family of the individual and all those affected by this tragic event,” Coronado Global said in a written statement.

The Queensland Mines Inspectorate has commenced its investigation into the incident, but said it was too early to provide further information at this time.

Call for government action

The latest fatality prompted LNP Natural Resources and Mines spokesman Dale Last to question delays in releasing outcomes from two separate independent reviews into Queensland’s mine safety.

“The LNP called for a bi-partisan Parliamentary Inquiry into mine safety last July, but the Palaszczuk Labor Government rejected it,” Mr Last said.

“A Parliamentary inquiry will fast-track any legislative changes. It’s absolutely crucial Queensland learns lessons from these tragedies, otherwise more lives are on the line.”

Acting Mines Minister Mark Ryan said any death in Queensland’s resources workplaces was unacceptable, and the government was committed to working with employers, unions and peak bodies to continue to improve protections for workers.

“This Labor Government has already extensively reformed mine safety and health over the past five years, and Queensland now has the toughest mine safety and health laws in the world. And there is further reform to come,” he said.

Mr Ryan said the State Government would introduce legislation this year on industrial manslaughter for the resources sector and had legislation before the Parliament to establish an independent resources health and safety authority.

“As the Minister said in July, two independent reviews will be tabled in Parliament,” he said.

“The government will take advice on further action from these reviews from its advisory committees and the independent Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health.”

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