Lack of communication led to mine worker suffering serious injuries at Lake Macquarie

The NSW Resources Regulator has released their investigation report into the serious injuries a mine worker suffered at Lake Macquarie last year.

A 45-year-old man had his upper body pinned between a piece of machinery and a wall at Centennial Coal’s underground Myuna Colliery on 5 February 2021 and as a result suffered serious, life-changing injuries.

The Regulator said the 45-year-old man, the operator of the Joy 12CM12 continuous miner machine and another worker were there at the time of the incident as they were replacing bolts in the roof at the underground mine.

At about 12:16am on 5 February last year, the 45-year-old was standing on the platform of the continuous miner machine. The machine needed to be re positioned so he stepped off the platform and positioned himself behind it.

The Regulator believes it was around this time that the continuous miner operator began to reposition the machine but wasn’t aware the other worker had stepped off it.

The machine trammed a short distance in a generally rearward direction (outbye) and then forward (inbye). The conveyor boom attached to the rear of the continuous miner was angled to the right while the continuous miner was being repositioned. As the continuous miner trammed forward, the rear right side of its conveyor boom moved toward where the worker was standing adjacent to the right rib.

The boom struck the worker’s upper body and pinned him against the rib. The continuous miner operator heard the injured worker scream and moved the continuous miner, thereby releasing him.

The third worker raised the alarm and NSW Ambulance were called to the mine site. 

A worker went to the emergency pod to obtain a pain relief gas called Entonox but mistakenly grabbed an Oxy-Viva unit instead. Nobody noticed at the time the pain relief hadn’t been taken to the injured worker. Several workers began transporting the injured worker out of the mine in a transport vehicle and it wasn’t until they left the crib room the workers identified there was no pain relief for the worker.

The driver had to slow right down as there were multiple sections of the roadway that were rough and would cause discomfort to the injured worker but that doubled the time it took to get out. 

They arrived on the surface at 1:59am, lmost two hours after the incident and the injured worker was taken to the John Hunter Hospital.

The regulator determined there were multiple factors that contributed to the incident:

  • Lack of situational awareness by the continuous miner operator and the worker
  • The worker failed to follow the safe work location rules
  • The continuous miner operator failed to maintain an effective lookout while tramming the continuous miner
  • The conveyor boom of the continuous miner was angled to the right in circumstances where the worker believed that it would be centred while the continuous miner was being moved.

The worker suffered injuries including a serious lower left arm fracture, loss of a kidney, rib fractures, spinal injuries, shoulder injury, cardiac and psychological injuries. he is still receiving ongoing treatment from multiple specialists. 

NSW Ambulance also told investigators they didn’t believe they received enough information on the condition of the injured worker and if they had been given more they would’ve assigned a higher level response.

Image: NSW Resources Regulator

Previous ArticleNext Article